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October 28, 2021

The Cajon Valley Union School District (CVUSD) recognizes the need to introduce workforce development into public education sooner. Partnered with World of Work, Ed Hidalgo, chief innovation and engagement officer with CVUSD, explains why it is important for schools to incorporate workforce development into education for students of all grade levels.

Can you tell me more about the programs you offer? 

Cvwow Anza Elementary Firemen 1

Across our district and 28 schools, our employees recognize that the community, students and families are the customers we serve and we are committed to ensuring all students are prepared for college, career and life after school. Our vision reflects this commitment, which is to develop happy kids, living in healthy relationships, on a path to gainful employment. This vision aligns to our community mission and long-term goal of making Cajon Valley the best place to live, work, play and raise a family.  

To support this learning model and the path to gainful employment, the district has designed a research-based career development framework that is deployed within the classroom starting in the primary grades. This approach equips teachers with the knowledge and tools to help students make important connections between what they are learning in the classroom and the world outside their school. The framework is also integrated within a newly developed technology platform that advances students’ love of reading, career exploration and academic success.  

How would you like to see San Diego change for the better?

San Diego has one of the most diverse business sectors in the nation with military, hospitality, technology, biotech, advanced manufacturing and healthcare, responsible for tens of thousands of job openings each year. To support talent acquisition many employers in these sectors look outside of San Diego to recruit from diverse talent pools because they are unsuccessful in sourcing local talent. The San Diego Regional EDC in their inclusive growth initiative said that San Diego will no longer be an attractive place to live and do business if we do not meet the region’s demand for talent by placing a special focus on underrepresented populations.

With such a need to focus on the development of diverse, local talent, we should focus on our regional school districts that are made up of diverse talent. Cajon Valley, as an example, is home to one of the most diverse school districts with more than 50 different languages spoken including; Spanish, Arabic, Swahili, Farsi, Pashto and many more. The diversity and the raw talent is here.  

So how could San Diego change for the better? While young people’s experiences across K-16 are governed by different policies, funding streams and fragmented silos, San Diego businesses and education should come together to provide consistent messaging about San Diego’s education to career pathways through our community colleges, begin supporting career development no later than middle school and provide internships for every child prior to graduation from high school.   

Why is workforce development important to your organization’s mission?

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Workforce is important to our organization because it provides the tools, labor market information (LMI) and subject matter expertise to inform our career development practice. For example, the MyNextMove career-exploration website and tools support our ability to scale access to interest-fit and career exploration learning for students and families. 

From using the tools and services, to forming a deeper partnership with the subject matter experts at the San Diego Workforce Partnership, this relationship has also allowed us to engage in co-designed projects. In 2020, the district partnered with the Workforce Partnership through a grant from American Student Assistance in Boston to create the Launch Pad career center. The effort included the integration of the My Next Move tools, LMI and talent to create a one of a kind space to serve students, families and the community. Now, the Launch Pad is being replicated at eight more school sites in Cajon Valley to provide advanced career development opportunities starting in primary school.  

How can San Diegans get involved? 

One of the most valuable things San Diegans can do is engage with their local K-12 schools.  

Research tells us that a student’s network of relationships is critical to academic and professional outcomes as well as overall wellbeing. The Christensen Institute has written a playbook at that speaks to the importance of this engagement and also recognizes Cajon Valley as an exemplar in this area.  

Should readers be interested in working with a school district that knows how to engage business and families, the new public charter high school, Bostonia Global High School, welcomes your talents, time and treasures. At the new school, the educational model is specifically designed to develop the unique strengths, interests and values of each student on their path to gainful employment. This model is centered around supporting students and creating the diverse talent our regional employers and community are looking for.

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