Vision 2020 Update to the Community
August, 22, 2016
Much has been accomplished & Several BIG Things on the Way
It has been a while since you’ve read about Vision 2020. Vision 2020 is an economic look forward begun by the Chamber of Commerce in January of 2015. In that month a City Council Shirtsleeve Meeting was dedicated to learn about Vision 2020, and both The City Manager and Mayor Johnson said they had never seen that many people before at a 7:00 AM Shirtsleeve meeting. Because of the turnout and the commitment of those in the audience, I told the City Council that, “Vision 2020” is no longer a Chamber project but a community project. The 37 people represented in the City Council chambers were testimony to that fact. Healthcare professionals, Lodi Health administrators, LUSD principals and teachers were there, business people and business owners from all types of businesses, the faith community, non-profit executives, and individual citizens were all enthused about our broad range plan to help Lodi ensure its best days lie ahead, with goals to reach by the year 2020.
The work began with about 100 people divided into five working groups we call Vision Action Teams or VATS. At the City Council meeting, four of our five City Council members signed up to be in a VAT and are still contributing today. At the end of 2015 the VATS completed 14 of the 55 Vision 2020 action steps. The Lodi News Sentinel covered those 2015 accomplishments earlier in the year so I won’t take up space repeating them here.
I’ve committed to writing a column a month here in the paper to talk about more exciting things beginning in 2016 as a result of Vision 2020 partnerships and the efforts of many committed citizens. One of the partnerships has unlimited economic potential for doing great things for many different groups of people in different ways, and it has already begun! This partnership officially begun at the start of this school year when Lodi children returned to school, and when young adults to the Adult School at LUSD’s Lincoln Technical campus in the Heritage District of Lodi.
The partnership I’m speaking about is the Lodi Jobs Academy. This is a partnership with leading businesses of Lodi who form the Chamber’s Lodi Industrial Group, the Workforce Development VAT and the Career Tech Department of LUSD at Lincoln Technical campus. Years of financial cutbacks from State Education funding all but extinguished Industrial Arts Classes of Metal and Wood shops, and with them went the initial exposure for many lucrative careers in the trades. The State education system has created millions of dollars to reinstate these classes into the California school system. But the curriculum of Industrial Arts now includes things like Programming, Coding, Automation Control and Robotics.
This is a great relief to local businesses who manufacture or process products, or employ large equipment and computer controlled machines that make all kinds of commodities here in Lodi from Tomatoes to Test Tubes. Why a great relief? Because there is a vacuum of needed skills in the workplace created by retiring Baby boomers. Today all employers find great difficulty in finding young workers with skills or a basic knowledge of work, let alone the right attitudes, as well as, the desired aptitude. A very basic knowledge of production and operation processes coupled with “soft-skills” of communication and working on a team has Lodi employers excited.
Principal Chiene of Lincoln Tech & Adult School of LUSD calls her partnership with the business community a Win-Win-Win. A winner for the business community because they are getting more of what they want, a work-ready employee; the student who wants a job out of high school and a shot at a career that can, with advancement, pay them far beyond minimum wage; and the schools and teachers get the satisfaction of giving young people a fundamental education that can give them an opportunity to actually begin their work-life. In transferring these skills and knowledge to students they are now what the job market needs. In addition, this is done without the heavy debt of college loans hanging over a young person’s head.
Principal Chiene and the team at LUSD, including Dr. Washer and the School Board are creating “Pathways” that begin in middle school and go through senior year. During this time, knowledge of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (now referred to as STEM) are built upon. From classes like Automation & Robotics, Mechanical Machines and Automation, Computer Control Systems, and Design & Modeling, students solve problems by creating models to do the work. All of these will prepare them for Introduction to Engineering, Digital Electronics and Integrated and Advanced Manufacturing.
With only 30% of high school graduates going on to college these days, and the prediction of 60-70% of jobs over the next decade not requiring a college education but rather knowing how to design, build or fix something—mostly involving a computer, the Lodi Jobs Academy should see great growth over the coming years.
In fact it all starts this semester. Adult school classes right now are getting the Introduction to Manufacturing class and middle schoolers are getting some of the “Pathways” knowledge mentioned above. Next fall, the High school classes kick in, and so does a major interface with students by the businesses that will employ graduates of the Lodi Jobs Academy. Job shadowing, classroom guest lecturers, and plant tours are just the beginning to get students excited and engaged in thinking about their future.
The Vision 2020 Workforce Development Action Team and the Chamber’s industrial group with LUSD & Lincoln Tech have created a winning combination for Lodi’s economic future. Hats are off to this partnership for their speedy work. What they have done is give greater opportunity for many young people to succeed in life through a better paying job and through hard work advancement to a supporting wage. This program also helps make Lodi a more attractive place to employers who might want to relocate to the Central Valley. Employers are looking for a place that is livable and loveable but that also has a workforce. Lodi has now begun building one.
President & CEO
Lodi District Chamber of Commerce