Chancellor Debbie Budd, San Jose Evergreen Community College District 

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges within workforce development in Silicon Valley?

  The biggest challenges within workforce development in Silicon Valley are those challenges faced by the populations that are not yet served. We need to remove the economic barriers that prevent these groups from participating in the prosperity that so many in our region enjoy and improve our cultural responsiveness in serving these populations. We need to continue to grow our systems toward alignment, even where‚Äîperhaps especially where‚Äîwe have historically been operating in silos. Strive is an excellent example of this type of work that is already underway. Our community colleges are well positioned to contribute to and leverage the collective impact of the collaborative work already taking place in our community. We must engage our entire community in rethinking the possibilities of higher education and its impacts on the regional workforce.

In your opinion, what are the biggest opportunities within workforce development in Silicon Valley?

The No. 1 opportunity within workforce in Silicon Valley is realizing and engaging the tremendous talent within our own community that is underdeveloped. We must do better at cultivating the workforce by reaching out to marginalized populations in our own community and growing and developing the local talent already living in our region. This will diversify the Silicon Valley workforce, particularly in the technology sector. Due to the student population we serve, community colleges play a pivotal role in this work and serve as the equity engine for the Silicon Valley workforce.

In your opinion, what should PRIORITY 1 be and why?

The highest priority should be on enhancing services that ensure higher rates of student success and faster, more streamlined paths to graduation and workforce entry for each and every one of our students. Work on this is already underway through programs like the San Jose Promise, STEM Core, Statway Mathematics, the South Bay Consortium for Adult Education, SparkPoint, and other programs and initiatives through which we partner with so many great organizations throughout the region. We also must do more to identify and serve those who have not yet made it into the pipeline. This includes many from our immigrant population and English language learners, among others. There is great opportunity to increase the pipeline by providing better services to those traditionally left on the outside looking in. Strengthening economic mobility in our community is directly tied to building the diverse workforce we need for a competitive Silicon Valley.

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