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SSU Works towards Bridging the Talent Gap in the North Bay

November 9, 2011 1:00 PM

November 9, 2011

SSU Works towards Bridging the Talent Gap in the North Bay

Rohnert Park, CA- Over 80 faculty members, students, alumni and businesses gathered to discuss the apparent talent disconnect in the North Bay at Sonoma State University's School of Business and Economics 3rd Annual Stakeholders Summit held last Friday, November 4th. The diverse group of stakeholders that were in attendance contributed their perspectives on why there appears to be a talent disconnect and brainstormed ideas for satisfying the needs of local businesses and SSU students.

"There are over 8,000 SSU students learning skills and seeking employment after graduation, but employers constantly state that they cannot find talented employees to fill their open positions. How do we bridge the gap between the two?" Bill Silver, Dean of the School of Business and Economics asked the attendees of the Summit.

Dean Silver and Brenda Gilchrist, managing partner of HR Matrix, proposed three questions and used a new type of "real time" polling to display everyone's opinions. Guests were prompted to discuss each question as a group, as well as to text their individual responses into the online poll to see the results. The groups' responses showed the following:

  1. Although 65% agree that the North Bay is a great place to work, 35% disagree. "Yes, the North Bay is a great place to work if you have a job, but what about those who are unemployed or making bare minimum? We must take into consideration and serve people on all levels," said Jack Lance, co-founder at Strategic Profit Development, Inc., who suggested with his table that one's view on whether or not the North Bay is a great place to work often depends on their socio-economic level and employment.
  2. 42% of business community members agreed that there is indeed a talent shortage in the North Bay, while 96% of students felt that it is not easy to find a job in the North Bay. Dean Silver encouraged guests to explore the juxtaposition that these results presented. "How can we create ways to connect these skilled students that are seeking employment with businesses that need talented workers?"  

The group concluded the event by brainstorming ways for the University and other organizations to bring this talent disconnect to a close. One idea, that is also getting attention nationally, is the need for our region and/or for individual employers to develop an employment "brand" that makes them desirable to potential employees at all levels. Other ideas ranged from engaging students in tangible work projects helping not-for-profits address social issues, to developing entrepreneurship and fostering small businesses through classes and student clubs, to students learning how to market themselves professionally as part of their curriculum.

Additional resources pertaining to the Summit:

About Sonoma State University School of Business and Economics

Sonoma State University School of Business and Economics' vision is to be the educational nucleus of a thriving North Bay economy.  Its mission is to create extraordinary learning experiences for its students and to advance best business practices in the North Bay and beyond. With undergraduate, graduate, and executive programs serving over 1500 students each year and concentrations in Accounting, Finance, Management, Marketing, Wine Business, and Economics, the School offers the most in-demand degree on the Sonoma State campus. The School of Business and Economics is accredited by AACSB (the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), making it one of 15% of all business schools in the world to meet these standards of excellence. The School of Business and Economics is also home to the Wine Business Institute, which is the first program in the United States to offer undergraduate and graduate degrees focused exclusively on the business aspects of the wine industry, as well as professional development courses for the industry.

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1801 East Cotati Avenue, Rohnert Park, CA, 94928 • 707-664-2377 10155