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March 4, 2015

Omar Passons is Senior Attorney at Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz. He is also a member of SDWP’s Workforce Investment Board. Here he describes what motivated him to join the WIB and the workforce issues he is most passionate about.

SDWP: What motivated you to join the WIB?

Passons: I am a land use and construction attorney, and I see in the construction world a real opportunity for young people to develop skills and build a future—literally—that is self-sustaining and meaningful. I believe in the power of opportunity to help people achieve and see workforce development, job training and education as essential to helping everyone have that opportunity. We live in a phenomenal country that has gotten increasingly better at opening doors for all of its residents. In my own life I’ve seen the power of education and meaningful job prospects to create a stable future for myself and my family, and I really want that same opportunity for everyone in our region. 

SDWP: What issues are you most passionate about as they relate to workforce development?

Passons: I see our region having a few industries that can help our young people who may not necessarily be bound for four-year universities. With 100 craft breweries and all the associated skills necessary, San Diego’s craft beer community presents an exciting opportunity. As Ron Chapman, the owner of Coronado Brewing Company, once said to me, “I don’t care how much formal education you have, if you are willing to work hard and have a passion for the work there is a place for you.” I see tremendous opportunities in construction now that the economy is on the upswing as well as in our life sciences cluster, where many of the careers do not require advanced science training. 

SDWP: Tell a brief story about a person, event or project that you were involved with that underscored your passion for these issues. 

Passons: In 2015, I volunteered to serve on Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s Workforce and Economic Advisory Committee to focus on strategies that will support businesses that provide and create good jobs for San Diegans across the region. I am excited to work to make sure that a broad set of perspectives and life experiences are considered. I also want to make sure that people in need—such as former foster youth and those living in extreme poverty—have meaningful opportunities to improve their lives. Serving on this newly formed Advisory Committee is a chance to put into practice my belief that meaningful change involves implementing solutions that come from as diverse a group as possible, across race, gender, career experience, educational background, income and national origin. Our workforce development needs involve tapping into the strengths of a bi-national region, but also in making the strategic investments to give every San Diegan the chance for the education and career development necessary to succeed. The group of business, academic and civic leaders crosses many major sectors in San Diego, and it has a tremendous opportunity to help shape our city’s economic and workforce policy.

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