Supervisor's Corner with Bob Williams and Steve Chamblin, Fall 2018
Thursday, November 01, 2018
As we began to contemplate what to write about in this quarterly issue of the “Supervisors Corner”, our conversation turned to opportunity in Tehama County. Not just opportunity for business expansion and development, but to also the opportunity for jobs and employment that we see coming to our area in the near future and what is currently being done in anticipation of those positions being available.
Let us start by saying that we see Tehama County as an area of abundant opportunity. As has been stated in previous columns, Tehama County is centrally located on the west coast, has excellent access to freeway and rail infrastructure, has low-cost vacant land and housing, plenty of water, and has a dedicated workforce just waiting to be trained to take advantage of any potential opportunity. Our Economic Development team has been doing a remarkable job of getting the word out to businesses looking to relocate or expand in Tehama County and has been reaching out to those businesses as to inquire into what job skills would be required in order to fill those new positions.
Many of the inquiries that our team has been getting from potential employers have been in the areas of light industrial and manufacturing. These jobs require a certain amount of technical training that for years has been either eliminated or ignored by high schools and post-secondary educational institutions. Part of our local efforts have been dedicated to shifting a certain percentage of our education curriculum back to Career Technical Education (CTE) and train our future workforce in skills needed to get a good paying job, without the cost of having to obtain a four-year college degree.
Working with businesses and individuals, our local high schools, Shasta College and CSU, Chico, we are making a concerted effort to provide CTE training for not just our youth, but also to include any members of our community who want a chance to either change careers or advance in their existing careers to better, higher paying jobs. As is often reported, many of today’s college graduates come out of school with an enormous amount of student debt, yet many are unable to find a good paying job, even with a four-year degree. Also, many high school students either lack the resources and/or the desire to go to a four-year institution. Without some sort of vocational training, these individuals are left without any other option than low skilled, low paying jobs. This is where the importance of CTE is amplified.
Area employers and educators have realized the importance of CTE training and have made important contributions and individual investments to make sure that our local workforce is properly trained and available to take on future employment opportunities. People like Red Bluff native Bill Gaines of Transfer Flow Inc. in Chico, saw the need locally and started the North State Grow Manufacturing Initiative in order to provide CTE training to local high school students wishing to learn how to operate modern manufacturing equipment. Most of this equipment requires a certain amount of training in proper computer coding, something that until recently hadn’t been offered in this area. We are happy to report that every Tehama County high school has taken advantage of Mr. Gaines’ offer and are now providing this training to any student who wishes to take advantage of the program.
But does everyone want to learn to operate a computerized piece of equipment? Certainly not, and our local educational institutions have been quick to realize that too. The need in our community for other skilled labor is also at the forefront of our conversations. In fact, in conjunction with Shasta College, Red Bluff High School has been offering an evening welding class for those wishing to learn basic welding, hone their existing skills, or continue on at the main Shasta College campus to become certified in all aspects of welding. Certified welders are in high demand in our local agri-business and manufacturing world and a career as a certified welder provides individuals the opportunity to obtain a high paying job while remaining in Tehama County.
These are just a couple of examples of the educational opportunities that are currently being offered in Tehama County. While we would have liked to have given more examples, we will save that for future columns. The point is, one of the main factors for businesses looking to either relocate or expand in Tehama County is a readily available, trained workforce. We all know that we have the dedicated and available people, our challenge has been to have them properly trained. Our efforts in providing training and education will go a long way in showing potential employers and businesses that Tehama County is where they want to be.