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Oct. 10, 2014: Advanced Manufacturing Roundtable Generates Plans to Build Local Workforce Pipeline


Contact: Jennifer Ortega,; (925) 602-6819

Advanced Manufacturing Roundtable Generates Plans to Build Local Workforce Pipeline
East Bay industry leaders discuss challenges and opportunities

Pleasant Hill, Calif. (Oct. 10, 2014) – The Workforce Development Board of Contra Costa County, in collaboration with the Design It, Build It, Ship It initiative, hosted a roundtable event Oct. 10 to discuss the state of advanced manufacturing in the region. Attended by business leaders from a dozen local companies and representatives from industry associations, colleges and economic development organizations, participants addressed efforts to reduce existing “skills gaps” by identifying training needs and strategies to better prepare workers for high-wage jobs in this sector.

“The reward that we’re going to get out of this effort is a more vital and vibrant advanced manufacturing environment,” said Jason Cox, Workforce Development Board member and Manager of Rolling Maintenance for steel manufacturer USS-POSCO Industries, which hosted the event.

Through a partnership jointly funded by the Workforce Development Board and the Design It, Build It, Ship It initiative, a local Advanced Manufacturing Workgroup launched an intensive effort to study the state of the industry in Contra Costa County and the East Bay. This roundtable marks the group’s second event this year to bring together industry leaders to evaluate the hiring, technical skills, marketing and collaboration challenges and opportunities related to advanced manufacturing – one of the four priority sectors outlined in the Workforce Development Board’s five-year strategic plan.

Several industry participants expressed their struggle to find quality applicants for available jobs, and cited the need to continue partnering with local community colleges and others to develop rigorous and relevant career pathways for students interested in this field.

“This skills gap is something that we’re seeing across all types of manufacturing,” said Jill Nohl, Workforce Development Board member and Human Resources Manager for C&H Sugar. “And while technical skills are essential, we also need employees who are creative and collaborative, who show up on time, follow safety rules, and function as part of a team.”

According to the workgroup’s recent survey of regional advanced manufacturers, the number one skill that employers want applicants to demonstrate is critical thinking. Roundtable participants agreed that problem-solving and teamwork skills are also highly valuable.

Additionally, the group is tacking the issue of marketing advanced manufacturing to show young people that it is an exciting and rewarding career field to explore.

“There are misperceptions about our industry,” said Cecilia Stone, Owner of Ready Print. “Manufacturing is more high-tech than ever. All across the U.S. we are seeing an increase in production and exports; and the East Bay will absolutely be a leader in this industry if we can ensure a talented and innovative workforce.”

The event yielded several ideas for short-term and long-term activities to strengthen the local talent pipeline. Developing more internship opportunities for young people and collaborating more closely with neighboring counties emerged as top priorities.

“The East Bay is an innovation hub with advanced manufacturing companies helping to pave the way,” said, Stephen Baiter, Executive Director of the Workforce Development Board. “Increasing and deepening the talent pool will help attract more businesses to our region, create more jobs and increase economic vitality for all.”


About the Workforce Development Board of Contra Costa County

The Workforce Development Board (WDB) is a 41-member, business-led body whose members are appointed by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors to shape and strengthen local and regional workforce development efforts. The WDB brings together leaders from business, economic development, education, labor, community-based organizations, and public agencies to align a variety of resources and organizations to enhance the competitiveness of the local workforce and support economic vitality in our region. 

About Design It, Build It, Ship It

Design It – Build It – Ship It (DBS) is a 4-year, $14.9 million U.S. Department of Labor-funded initiative in the East Bay under the Obama Administration’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community college Career Training program (TAACCCT). The goal of DBS is to build an integrated, regional, industry-driven workforce development system in the East Bay. DBS is led by the Contra Costa Community College District and a consortium of regional partners.

This project was funded by a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. The project was created by the grantee and does not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Labor. The Department of Labor makes no guarantees, warranties, or assurances of any kind, expressed or implied, with respect to such information, including any information on linked sites and including, but not limited to, accuracy of the information or its completeness, timeliness, usefulness, adequacy, continued availability, or ownership.

Media contact, (925) 602-6800 (phone); (925) 228-0238 (fax)