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December 10, 2020

To say 2020 challenged us as a society, community and workforce system is an understatement. But we feel blessed to close out the year with hope, celebrating the resilience, creativity and collective spirit that have carried us through some very difficult times. Here’s a look at some of our top moments from 2020. They are presented in no particular order.

1. A new web experience launches, providing innovative online tools to explore where people’s skills and interests match what employers are looking for

Professionals Illustration

Through My Next Move, you can access local information that makes it easier for students, job seekers and all career explorers to align their interests and skills with what’s hot in our regional job market. The tool uses real labor market data to help students and job seekers:

  • Identify careers that align with their strengths and interests
  • Connect with resources to become work-ready
  • Make informed career decisions
  • Feel confident that there’s a place for them in San Diego’s workforce

2. More than $200,000 is invested in restaurants to rehire and retrain more than 60 workers and prepare and deliver over 8,000 free meals to food insecure residents impacted by COVID-19


High Road Kitchens restaurants received funding to bring back laid off employees and feed frontline workers and food insecure residents—all while committing to job quality and implementing equity and racial justice practices and policies within their businesses. Made possible by a grant from The San Diego Foundation, the funds support restaurants with $5,000 each to get up and running through COVID-19 challenges. Every philanthropic dollar is matched one-to-one by the San Diego Workforce Partnership.

3. Diversity, equity and inclusion series asks San Diego to ‘Listen, Learn, Act’ as we work together to dismantle inequality


Racist systems and structures perpetuating economic inequality for Black San Diegans are longstanding, from redlining in the 1930s, to discriminatory policing and prosecution, to discriminatory hiring and lending practices. One result of these systems and structures is that while less than 10% of San Diego County’s white youth are disconnected (not in school and not working), 18% of Black youth are disconnected. Among youth who do find employment, Black San Diegans are paid half as much as their white peers.

Work is a fundamental right. One that should not be jeopardized by race, background, orientation or zip code. We joined important conversations being had all over the country with a locally-focused series exploring the issues, actions and potential solutions to create an inclusive and thriving region.

4. Workforce + Child Care outlines critical next steps for creating parent-friendly workplaces to drive the economy

Workforce + Child Care

Workforce + Child Care, an interactive online report, presents obstacles parents face locally, including availability, affordability and quality child care. Released in partnership with The San Diego Foundation, it includes a list of action items that various audiences can take to help solve the child care crisis in San Diego.

We released the report at an event with leaders from San Diego’s business, government, philanthropic and nonprofit communities where we discussed how each of us can better support working parents to lift up our children, our workforce and the economy.

When the pandemic hit just two months later, our advocacy efforts with The San Diego Foundation, Hospital Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties, and the San Diego Emergency Child Care Task Force led to Governor Newsom releasing $50 million to pay for limited-term, additional state subsidized child care vouchers for essential workers and at-risk populations in California.

5. A middle school library transforms into a career center, helping students answer, “Why am I learning this?”

Launch Pad

Annually, our federal workforce system spends nearly a billion dollars on programs to reconnect young adults ages 16–24 to work and school, but are we serving youth too little, too late? In partnership with Cajon Valley Unified School District, we redefined the role workforce development plays in K-12 education to prevent disconnection before it happens.

Named the Launch Pad, a common thread throughout the career center experience is a focus on personal interests, guided by the RIASEC framework. Interests have the highest correlation to career success, performance, income and even elements of satisfaction. Visitors to the Launch Pad have several opportunities to form explicit connections between their personal interests and career possibilities, knowledge that will help them to thrive in the workforce.

6. The Workforce Income Share Agreement Fund celebrates its first cohort of graduates, who acquired in-demand tech skills to hit the ground running at local businesses


We launched our Income Share Agreement (ISA) program with UC San Diego Extension in 2019 and our first cohort graduated this year. ISAs allow students to complete a certificate program in a tech field while paying zero costs up-front. They only pay back into the fund if they land a job earning $40,000 or more annually. Students like Ellie were offered a job in their field of study and will be paving the way for the next cohort of students to access this opportunity.

7. The COVID-19 pandemic calls us to pivot quickly to serve San Diego County


Before the pandemic, much of our service delivery happened in-person. But as stay-at-home orders sent everything virtual we quickly moved services online, offering workshops and other career center services remotely for the first time ever. We also created an On-demand Library so people can access job training resources, learn new skills and find career paths on their own schedule. Additionally, we created a Chat Bot in partnership with Microsoft to support job seekers and businesses 24/7. Most recently, we launch a universal phone number to better serve all clients: (619) 319-WORK (9675).

8. Free job skills workshops launch for workers 60 and older who are considering returning to the workforce

Aging Workforce

Workshops are offered weekly on topics like Leveraging LinkedIn and Generational Identity. Those who attend have an opportunity to land a paid 150-hour “returnship”—an internship for workers 60 and older looking to make a move back into the workforce—with a local employer. Created in collaboration with the SAHM Family Foundation, California Workforce Development Board and San Diego Seniors Community Foundation, the opportunities are for anyone who has been thinking about reentering the workforce or simply wants to explore the world of work and learn something new.

9. 6 key essential skills for career success are identified and shared with accompanying tools to empower students and job seekers to start building them today

Essential Skills

While technical skills are what you do at work, essential skills are how you do it. Employers value these skills in their employees—often as much as technical skills, which is why understanding what they are and how to develop them is crucial. Based on employer data and in partnership with the San Diego County Office of Education we identified six essential skills—emotional intelligence, communication, creative & critical thinking, collaboration, dependability, and resourcefulness—that apply across all sectors.

Accompanying posters, printouts and rubrics are meant to set students and job seekers up for success to meet the demand of employers. Educators in K-12 schools, colleges and professional training programs can use these tools at any grade level, and career counselors can use them to promote self-awareness in job seekers.

10. Outcomes Center builds capacity to lower barriers to entry for education and training that leads to well-paying jobs


Income Share Agreements (ISA) models are a transformational tool for workforce development, which, when applied in a customer-centric way, can remove barriers to education, provide immersive support and set individuals on a path to durable self-sufficiency by equipping participants with market-responsive credentials, work experience and strong networks.

The Outcomes Center—a hub for tools to help others develop quality ISA programs that put people first—was created to ensure that more individuals who need credentials can afford them and that the credentials they receive are standardized, portable and transferable.

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