I found out why “HSU” unofficially stood for “Hills, Stairs, and Umbrellas” when taking a walking tour of the former Humboldt State University campus in Arcata earlier this week. Thanks in large part to nearly half a billion dollars in state funding, the center of higher learning on the other side of the mountains to our west, is in the process of transforming itself into California’s third Polytechnic University and the first in Northern California. For more information on Cal Poly Humboldt, please click HERE. According to the university’s dean of admissions, the plan is to practically double the size of the student population from just shy of 6,000 to 11,000 students by 2029. What this means for the North State is a deeper, more local talent pool of job-ready candidates in the often higher-earning STEM-related industries.
The tour was organized for those of us on the board of College & Career Options, which is a local organization that aims to strengthen the college-going culture in the North State by increasing opportunities for students to pursue postsecondary education, and ensuring that all students can make informed decisions about their education and their future. Think of the organization as getting more local students through the “front door” of college and career training options by better aligning students’ career interests with their educational options while helping improve access to financial aid. If you have a student in high school, I highly recommend reaching out to them for help in navigating what can be a confusing process. You are likely leaving money on the table if you don’t!
But what about the “back door”? In other words, once the local student completes college or career training, how do we do a better job of ensuring that more of them contribute to the local job market? With the workforce woes that many of you have shared with us hamstringing your ability to sustain and grow your business, the Chamber is sharpening its focus on workforce retention. In a partnership with Shasta College and other chambers of commerce in Shasta, Tehama, and Trinity Counties, we are working to identify common needs among the business communities in those areas. The outcome will be curricula developed to meet current training needs through the Business Training Center at Shasta College’s campuses in the three counties.
There are many pieces to solving the challenging workforce puzzle. Thankfully, we are alongside strong, local, organizational partners hard at work in winning in talent recruitment and retention.
ps: I also toured the brand new, Computer Information Systems (CIS) building at Shasta College last week. It stands out as a modern technology center, complete with hands-on opportunities to solve on the job, real world IT challenges and much more. Thanks to the voters for passing Measure H, which funded this new campus jewel.
President & CEO