Information Communication Technologies & Digital Media Sector Team

By Duane Rinehart, Regional Director of Employer Engagement, San Diego Region

Perennially community colleges ask if graduates are prepared for the workforce. A current program in San Diego is addressing that exact issue in software development. Initially San Diego was selected as one of five cities to receive a $3 million investment as part of the JPMorgan Chase’s AdvancingCities Challenge.

The first goal is to engage employers to develop skills-based criteria for high demand jobs. Subsequently the plan is to establish educational programs that prepare the skilled talent to assume these same jobs, increase the candidate pool and expand access for small companies. As these goals were similar to those established by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office in the Vision for Success, it made sense to leverage the JPMorgan Chase investment to create the largest impact possible for San Diego.

The first sector to be evaluated was software development and a working group was formed by to identify the critical skills required for software development in the San Diego Region. Their report was released, based on input from 17 San Diego employers across the defense, health, life sciences, tech and services industries. The largest demand was in software engineers who knew Python, JavaScript, Java, SQL, C++, C# and C. In addition, software debugging, agile methodology knowledge and version control (git) were also in high demand. These skills should come as no surprise to anyone working in or closely with the ICT sector.

Since the JPMorgan Chase funding also established the “Preferred Provider” program, where local academic institutions that taught the in-demand skills could apply to get on a short list from which many companies could more easily recruit (with subsidized internships), the San Diego & Imperial Counties Regional Consortium also wanted to incentivize the community colleges to align their curriculum to industry needs, whether they applied for the AdvancingCities program or not. As such, it allocated Strong Workforce funding to create an added incentive for each college to create or modify programs to meet the demand.

In preparation for this Request for Application (RFA), the Regional Consortium requested Labor Market Information (LMI) from an independent source to validate the responses from the 17 previously-selected employers. As the Regional Director of Employer Engagement, I meet with many employees, contractors, HR representatives and have a more expansive view of the knowledge, skills and abilities to get and keep a job in software development in the region. My results were summarized and released prior to and independently from the JPMorgan Chase working group, covering more industries and more than 75 employers. It turns out my list was very similar to the working group’s list.

Currently we have five (5) regional community colleges that have applied for the Strong Workforce funds and I am helping them identify what courses and programs would be easiest to convert for compliance with AdvancingCities. The challenge is to not jeopardize ADT or articulation agreements with any modifications and to ensure all topics are addressed without adding additional time to graduation. That challenge remains but the curriculum alignment with industry needs should keep the San Diego Community Colleges in focus as a relevant and economical candidate source for employers looking to fill software development openings.

For more information, contact Duane Rinehart at .

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