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July 8, 2014

U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez spoke to members of San Diego public and private businesses and community partners, including representatives from San Diego Workforce Partnership, CONNECT, Diego and Son Printing, Qualcomm, the North County Economic Development Corporation and BAE Systems. The June 26 stop in San Diego was part of Secretary Perez’ outreach to communities and businesses to gather feedback on what the government can do to help get people back to work and fill the workforce needs of companies.

Secretary Perez opened his comments saying he is focusing on job growth and addressing a commonly heard concern—too many people walking through employers’ doors are lacking required skills. He is pushing for all entities that are influential in workforce development to be demand-driven and help job seekers find career pathways in rapidly growing local sectors. 

To accomplish this, Perez encouraged ongoing and increased partnership among businesses, educational institutions and community services in our region. “Workforce development and economic development are one and the same and the key for workforce development and economic development is partnership,” he said. 

SDWP CEO Peter Callstrom moderated the question-and-answer session with Secretary Perez. Discussion centered on topics such as minimum wage, long-term unemployment, skills gaps and how to train a workforce that can compete globally. 

San Diego Council President Todd Gloria spoke directly to the issue of the local minimum wage, specifically his proposal to help the 38 percent of San Diego families that would greatly benefit from an increase in the minimum wage and the balance he is seeking with the business community. “We are trying to replicate a model that is working in other cities,” Gloria said.

“It was a great opportunity to have San Diego’s ideas for workforce development heard by Secretary Perez,” Callstrom says. “Our region is fortunate that we have strong partnerships among educational institutions, employers across sectors and government. However, we need to continue to identify skills gaps in our growing sectors and fund innovative programs that will train San Diegans to fill those jobs.”

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