Bay Area Council Blog: Workforce of the Future Archive

grad slam

UC Grad Slam Showcases Research Talent

In partnership with the Bay Area Council and LinkedIn, the University of California on April 22 held its second annual Grad Slam competition showcasing the breadth and depth of research UC’s 50,000 graduate and professional students are developing. Winners from each of the 10 campus contests competing at Grad Slam for the $6,000 prize were judged on how well they engage the audience, communicate key concepts and present focused ideas—all in 3 minutes or less!

“When scientists and scholars are able to communicate their research without jargon, it helps them connect with colleagues outside their field, get fellowships and land career opportunities,” said UC President Janet Napolitano who served as emcee. “But even more critically, it allows them to bring their expertise into the public sphere, where we all can benefit from their knowledge.”

This year the coveted “Slammy” trophy went to UC Riverside doctoral student Peter Byrley who is working to create smaller, more powerful microprocessors using graphene instead of silicon. Read more about the winner>>

Special thanks to Council member LinkedIn for hosting the Grad Slam at its newly opened, state-of-the-art 450,000 square foot office building in San Francisco. LinkedIn Senior Manager of Community Relations Katie Ferrick said of the event, “Grad students’ research has the potential to improve people’s lives and livelihoods, just as LinkedIn seeks to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. Their research represents a glimpse into the workforce of the future.”

To engage in the Council’s Workforce of the Future Initiative, please contact Senior Vice President of Policy Linda Bidrossian.


New Study: CA Leading Manufacturing Transformation

California is poised to lead an emerging transformation in global manufacturing as technological advances like 3D printing and robots and changing consumer behavior fueled by the Internet increases demand for fast delivery and highly customized products. A new report the Bay Area Council Economic Institute released Wednesday (April 6) examines California’s growing manufacturing sector, highlights its many advantages and makes a series of recommendations for strengthening it and ensuring manufacturers have the high-skilled workers they need.

Read the full report: Manufacturing’s Reinvention: How the Transformation of Manufacturing is Creating New Opportunity for California>>


Innovative Workforce Lab Tackles Middle-Skills Gap

Over the past year, the Bay Area Council’s Workforce of the Future committee, co-chaired by Teresa Briggs, Vice Chair and West Region Managing Partner at Deloitte LLP and Glenn Shannon, President at Shorenstein Properties LLC, has worked towards gaining new insights into the workforce development landscape in the Bay Area. As the middle-skills gap continues to widen, there becomes a greater need for collaboration between companies looking to hire, the job seekers of today, and the local educational institutions preparing the employees of tomorrow. It was from this that the “Workforce of the Future” Lab was born.

On February 22, key figures from the corporate, public and nonprofit sectors joined forces to address these issues head on. The “Workforce of the Future” Lab, sponsored by Deloitte, was convened to be a platform to identify gaps in information about job availability and workforce capability, with the goal of closing the middle-skills gap through collaboration.

“Companies are saying they have jobs available, but need qualified candidates to fill them. Simultaneously, educational institutions are saying they have talent available, but lack visibility into job opportunities. Clearly, there’s a disconnect,” Briggs said. “Our goal is to not only address this divide, but work together to identify challenges and develop solutions.”

With the Lab completed, the group will move towards identifying key takeaways and actionable methods of collaboration across institutions. To engage in our Workforce of the Future policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Linda Bidrossian.


Member Spotlight: University of the Pacific

Established in 1851 as the first chartered institution of higher education in California, University of the Pacific is deeply rooted in the communities where its three campuses are located – Stockton, Sacramento and San Francisco. Our alumni, including late San Francisco Mayor and California Senate Leader George R. Moscone, jazz great Dave Brubeck, and humanitarian Sakena Yacoobi, have transformed these regions, our state and our world. For 165 years, Pacific has prepared students for lives of meaning and success through rigorous academics, small classes, and a supportive and engaging culture.

The beautiful Stockton campus offers more than 80 majors across seven schools. The Sacramento campus in Oak Park is home to the Pacific McGeorge School of Law and programs in analytics, health, education, business and public policy. The San Francisco campus in SoMa is home to the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry and new graduate programs in health, food, music and analytics.  As Pacific continues to add new programs at the Sacramento and San Francisco campuses, the university strives to become a more integral part of the communities we serve.



East Bay Assemblymember Tony Thurmond (Richmond) this week was appointed chair of a new Select Committee on Regional Planning in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the Bay Area Council is moving quickly to engage with him and the committee to provide input. The committee is being formed to address the planned merger of the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. The Council is a leading proponent of merging the two agencies to better address the region’s pressing housing and transportation challenges.

Read the Council’s position on the MTC-ABAG merger>>

Thurmond said in a statement that he “also intends for the select committee to address other regional issues, including the lack of affordable housing; environmental issues, such as sea-level rise; strengthening the local economy; and improving public transportation systems. These facts tell me that if we don’t take a regional approach to these issues, there is no way we can appropriately allocate resources to fix the problems.” An initial hearing of the committee is scheduled for Feb. 19 in Oakland and the Council is looking forward to participating. To engage in our regional planning work, please contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.

Storper Flash

Bay Area’s Connectedness Key in Maintaining Economic Dominance

A robust network of connections among top business executives, innovators, entrepreneurs, scientists, academics and investors is a major reason the Bay Area has been able to maintain its economic dominance over the past 40 years. That was among the interesting findings UCLA urban planning professor Dr. Michael Storper presented during a talk this week (Jan. 25) hosted by the Bay Area Council. Storper visited the Council to discuss his new book – The Rise and Fall of Urban Economies – which compares the economies of the Bay Area and Los Angeles and examines why LA has slipped from #1 to #25 nationally since the 1970s at the same time the Bay Area has remained at the top.

Storper specifically cited the Bay Area Council as a major driver of that connectedness or what he called “nBetweeness.” Leadership nBetweeness among the Council’s members, Storper said, is more than three times denser than that of any business group in the greater Los Angeles area and of any other similar group in the Bay Area. Those connections are critical in bringing together the necessary ingredients for creating innovation, supporting entrepreneurial activity and generating economic growth, he said. Hear Dr. Storper describe the Council’s nBetweeness>>

The Bay Area’s ability to mash together “hippy academics and crew cut engineers” to drive innovation is another big reason our region has been able to maintain its economic dominance over the past 40 years, Storper said. He cautioned, however, that the Bay Area’s success, particularly in the high tech sectors, could be a weakness. Los Angeles grew so comfortable with its massive government-supported aerospace and defense industries in the 1970s that it failed to diversify and pursue new and emerging industries.

Watch Dr. Storper’s full presentation>>

View slides from Dr. Storper’s presentation>>

Order The Rise and Fall of Urban Economies>>



The question of a coming downturn was among the main topics addressed today (Jan. 15) at the Bay Area Council Economic Institute’s 9th Annual Economic Forecast presented by Accenture and hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Fed President and Council Executive Committee member John Williams opened the conference with his insights on the U.S. economy and federal monetary policy. Williams talked about the dynamics surrounding the U.S. labor market, including weak labor force participation despite growing employment. On interest rates, Williams said he expects the recent increase will be followed with continuing “gradual” increases over the next three years.

On the California and Bay Area fronts, UCLA Anderson Forecast senior economist Jerry Nickelsburg said employment growth will continue, but that it will slow in the next 2-3 years. Part of the slowdown, he said, is tied to an historic shortage of housing that is pushing prices into the stratosphere and discouraging workers from coming here. Housing starts, he said, are starting to rebound but not at sufficient levels to make up for deficit. Nickelsburg didn’t put a timeframe on a possible economic downturn, but he outlined some key indicators he said would signal a recession, including the implosion of overvalued startups – unicorns, pentacorns and decacorns – fear of global problems (China slowdown, Middle East turmoil, Euro uncertainty) and declining consumer demand for technology equipment and software.

Tracey Grose, Chair of State Controller Betty Yee’s Council of Economic Advisors, talked about the Bay Area’s innovation economy, the continuing emergence of advanced manufacturing and the growing “gig” economy. Accenture Managing Director Eric Wittke then moderated a discussion on the “gig” or “platform” economy with Kaiser Permanente Chief Information Officer Dick Daniels and Lyft Director of International Government Relations Mike Masserman.



Well-coordinated regional planning is absolutely critical if we are to address the region’s housing affordability crisis, upgrade its congested transportation networks, sustain its economic growth and meet the climate goals laid out in state policy and international accords. To achieve that, the Bay Area Council is advocating for the merger of our two regional planning agencies into a single entity that can effectively deliver on the promise of regional solutions.

Our two regional planning agencies, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), each have proud histories and legacies of accomplishment. However, this dual agency structure was established for an age in which our region’s housing and transportation challenges were orders of magnitude smaller than they are today and the imperative of restructuring our communities to respond to global climate change not nearly as urgent. Our region has taken some critical first steps but we must better align our transportation and land use plans in one regional vision. It has become abundantly clear that institutional reform is necessary if we are to rise to the challenge.

To that end, MTC and ABAG have convened a process to consider how a merged agency might be structured. The Bay Area Council is advocating for creating a single regional planning agency and has been engaging closely with MTC and ABAG leadership during the process, and has developed a set of principles to help guide the discussion.

Read the Council’s Principles for Regional Governance Reform>>



The Bay Area Council reacted generally favorably to the proposed 2016-17 state budget that Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled yesterday (Jan. 7). Here is a quick analysis of how the Governor’s proposed spending plan impacts some of our lead policy priority areas.

Water and Natural Resources
The Natural Resources Agency, which manages much of the state’s water, environment and fire protection activities, is pegged for $2.9 billion, a 6.6 percent boost from the previous year’s budget. Big winners include one-time expenditures for emergency drought response ($323 million); fire protection ($77 million); and $150 million from cap and trade revenues for water and energy efficiency programs, wetlands and delta habitat restoration program, and urban greening.

The budget includes total funding of $16.2 billion for transportation programs, with a continued focus on raising new money for highway repairs and maintenance. The revenues will be split evenly between state and local transportation priorities, and raised from several sources including a new road improvement fee on all vehicles, a continuation of the gasoline excise tax, an 11-cent increase in the diesel excise tax, cap and trade proceeds, and cost-saving efficiency improvements to Caltrans. In addition to highway repairs and local road maintenance, the budget allocates resources to a new Low Carbon Road Program for projects that encourage active transportation, transit capital investments that provide greenhouse gas reductions, and projects that strengthen the state’s major trade corridors.

Workforce and Higher Education
Gov. Jerry Brown proposed spending more than $270 million on improving the performance of California’s workforce training programs in his proposed budget yesterday, providing a boost to the Council’s efforts to strengthen regional workforce pipelines—and better connect training programs with the needs of employers. The proposed budget also keeps tuition flat at the University of California and California State University systems, increasing core funding by 4.6 percent at CSU and 5.4 percent at UC.

Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman issued the following statement on the Governor’s proposed budget:

“California is enjoying an El Nino of economic resurgence that is filling state coffers. Gov. Brown has presented a budget that reflects that largesse while also recognizing that we must be prepared for an inevitable downturn. We applaud the Governor’s continuing vigilance in controlling spending and focusing investments in areas critical to sustaining our nation-leading economic growth, including transportation and higher education. There is more work to be done to make sure we are investing in the foundational areas of our economy, including rebuilding and improving our beleaguered and badly underfunded transportation system. California also still relies heavily on volatile income taxes, for which the Bay Area contributes a disproportionately high level compared with other regions of the state.

We look forward to working with the Governor, his administration and the Legislature in the coming weeks and months to ensure California’s spending is focused on those areas that will help sustain healthy, balanced and long-term economic growth. That includes continuing our work with groups like The Fix Our Roads Coalition to secure the funding California so badly needs to repair our roads and highways.”


New Poll Shows Strong Support for Stabilizing Higher Ed Funding

The Bay Area Council today (Jan. 7) released results of a statewide poll that shows California voters want to put the brakes on decades of state funding cuts to higher education, with 63 percent of voters saying they would support a ballot initiative to guarantee stable funding for the University of California and California State University systems. The support far surpasses the simple majority that would be needed for passage.

Along with shoring up higher education funding from the state, voters also want guarantees on admissions and access to key courses. The poll found that 81 percent of voters want guaranteed admission to both UC and CSU schools for qualified California students. Support for increasing access to courses needed for graduation was even higher, coming in at 83 percent.

“Californians want more from their higher education system, but they also recognize our higher education system needs more support,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council, which sponsored the poll. “Our public higher education system is the headwater of our innovation economy, but the snowpack of state funding that feeds UC and CSU has been getting thinner and thinner. Guaranteeing a minimum level of state funding would provide some stability for our higher education systems and protect students and families against the constant threat of increasing tuition.”

See summary of California higher education poll results>>

The Bay Area Council commissioned the poll to gauge attitudes for a possible statewide ballot proposition that would put in place Constitutional protections related to UC and CSU funding, enrollment and programs.

The poll asked voters: To guarantee admission for qualified California students, place strict limits on tuition increases, continue tuition-free education for low-income students, and increase access to courses needed to graduate at University of California and California State Universities, should the state constitution be amended to establish a minimum level of state funding with accountability and oversight?

Support was highest among voters in the state’s biggest population centers, with 72 percent approval among Bay Area voters and 71 percent among voters in Los Angeles County. Sacramento was far less inclined to support the measure, with only 48 percent approval.

“Voters are clear – they understand the importance of California’s jewel of a higher education system,” said Lenny Mendonca, director emeritus of McKinsey and Company and a former Chair of the Bay Area Council. “They love the Master Plan; expect the UC, CSU and community colleges to provide access and deliver it; and the state to ensure we have the financial resources to do so.”

Younger voters also were highly supportive of the measure, according to the poll, with 77 percent of those ages 18-49 casting their ballot in favor. Among ethnic groups, support spiked with Asian voters at 87 percent with Hispanic/Latino voters not far behind at 82 percent. The poll found 56 percent of white/Caucasian voters approving the measure.

Stable tuition also garnered strong support, with 72 percent of voters favoring a guarantee that the amount of tuition a student pays would remain the same for up to six years.

Higher education funding has been a contentious topic in recent state budget discussions, with UC President Janet Napolitano and Gov. Jerry Brown hammering out a deal earlier this year to provide additional state funding in exchange for halting planned tuition hikes. Tuition and fees for in-state students at UC have almost doubled over the past 10 years while state funding for the system has declined more than 30 percent since the late 1990s.

The poll results also reinforce a plan by President Napolitano and recently approved by the UC Board of Regents to increase in-state undergraduate enrollment by 10,000 over the next three years. That’s because 62 percent of voters in the poll think UC could be doing a better job of admitting California students. According to some recent reports, in-state admissions in UC are at historic lows.

Despite concerns about enrollment and cost, 71 percent of voters said UC provides a high quality education and 50 percent agreed that the overall value of a UC education is good. The CSU system also received strong marks, with 57 percent of voters saying the overall value of CSU is good or excellent and 65 percent ranking the quality of education as good or excellent.

Other findings from the poll include:
• 41 percent of voters said they have personally have attended or currently attend a UC or CSU school
• 50 percent of voters say they have an immediate family member that attended or currently attend a UC or CSU school

The poll of 600 voters by Oakland-based EMC Research was conducted in mid-September and has a margin of error of 4 percent.