In May 2008, the U. S. Department of Labor awarded a Regional Innovation Grant to the three workforce investment boards in Silicon Valley – the North Valley Workforce Investment Board (NOVA), the San Mateo County Workforce Investment Board and work2future – to develop a comprehensive, integrated regional workforce development plan.
Together, these three workforce investment boards provide workforce development services for employers and job seekers in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. The workforce investment boards chose Joint Venture to lead the process and meet the grant’s four planning objectives:
- Achieve a common understanding of the workforce challenges facing Silicon Valley as a region
- Develop a regional action plan that would develop new systems, infrastructure and alliances among workforce organizations
- Form a cohesive partnership of the region’s key stakeholders and decision makers and collectively address the workforce challenges facing Silicon Valley
- Leverage the strength of these new partnerships to advocate supportive policy in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.
Silicon Valley is a large, diverse economy with a broad spectrum of employers and adult workers. The regional workforce initiative sought to unify the stakeholders around a common set of desired outcomes; to develop metrics to measure success; and to provide effective, ongoing communication about workforce development solutions.
Joint Venture hired executive director Josh Williams to carry out the objectives of the Department of Labor grant and the Joint Venture initiative. The resulting report makes the case for a regional workforce plan in Silicon Valley. The report is divided into three parts:
- Why a fresh new regional approach to workforce development can redound to the benefit of the overall economy.
- The process used to gather input from the region’s numerous stakeholders, and how the input was used to develop deliverables for the regional innovation grant.
- The new regional action plan and how Silicon Valley’s workforce investment boards and other stakeholder groups intend to work together in the future.
The economic churn that creates new industries and new occupational skill-sets has only intensified as the region looks to recover from the great recession. This time of economic transition has also delayed the need for skilled replacement workers, but as the region recovers, the demand for these qualified replacement workers will only grow in importance. To remain the epicenter of innovation and entrepreneurship, Silicon Valley must evolve to the changing needs of employers and their need for a skilled workforce.
Ultimately, this workforce plan emphasizes a regional approach to assessment, communication and collaboration between regional workforce stakeholders.
Joint Venture and our partners in this project offer a special thank you to former NOVA Executive Director Mike Curran for his vision and his tireless efforts to bring together the resources, organization and initial momentum that made this regional workforce effort possible.