Career center hosts counselors’ conference

Russell Lindquist

(from left) Michael Okoye, Elizabeth Barea, Christian Ramos, Stephen Dailing help host the Career Conference

Story , Photos by June Bayha

GROSSMONT COLLEGE–Nancy Davis, supervisor of Student Development Services, recently headed a summit on campus which connected career counselors with business leaders and theorists to discuss the current job-market in San Diego as well as various projections for the future of that job market.

Steve Hoey, a program manager for ConnectSanDiego spoke optimistically of San Diego’s future job-market, mentioning that there are companies here that now focus on ways to outsource locally, rather than nationally or internationally.  Also, he said that “tech jobs (of which San Diego has plenty) endure well through tough times.”

According to estimates reflected by Hoey, local services will account for 772,600 jobs (62%) of the economy of San Diego for the upcoming year, while defense-related jobs will make up 142,000 jobs (12%) followed by technological innovation and manufacturing , 137,700 jobs (11% ) and  research 35,000 (3%).

The two coasts have shifted the proportions of military jobs, he said.  In the past, the East Coast had one and a half times as many jobs as the West Coast.  Now the percentages are reversed,  which he says should add 18 billion dollars to San Diego’s economy.

Those students ready for a career in engineering will–as usual–be highly sought.  Hoey estimated that there is a shortage of engineers: “5,000 to 10,000 are needed today.”   Software engineers, he said, account for at least one third of San Diego’s need for engineers.  And he said that engineering majors have an average of four job-offers upon graduation.

When asked by Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District  Chancellor Cindy Miles for possible reasons why San Diego has been hit so hard by economic recession, Hoey replied that San Diego is home to many “seed-stage,” early-stage companies, further stating that such companies tend to lose-out disproportionately from roll backs by venture capitalists.

However, Hoey said, such losses could be mitigated by government grants as well as by strategic partnering with other up-and-coming companies.

Professor Evan Wirig jovially makes his point during a workshop

Gary Moss, a labor market information research director for San Diego Workspace Partnership estimated that, at the height of the recession, San Diego County lost 125,000 jobs; further, he said that, although 25,000 new jobs were added to San Diego’s economy in 2010, still unemployment stays high because of an influx of those affected by recession and by those seeking to compete for even better jobs.

The workspace partnership, said Moss, has six career-centers in San Diego County and has, in the last year, noticed the following trends:

  • A rise in customers with college degrees who are seeking career help
  • An increase of males seeking job services
  • Veterans having been hit particularly hard (The statewide unemployment rate for veterans, said Moss, is estimated to be at around 30 percent.)

Robbi Rosen (Mira Costa career counselor) energetically explains the Career Cafe workbook

Moss mentioned that on the rise are programs to help military veterans find employment in green construction and software/technological development.

Another trend, according to Moss, is that companies are training their employees for higher roles within the company.

Six thousand openings for software engineers exist across county, stated Moss, echoing Hoey.

Moss predicted that, throughout 2011, unemployment will stay at around 9% in San Diego County.

Industries wherein Moss expects to see net-gains include the following:

  • +3% Professional Business Services
  • +3% Education and Health Services
  • +2% Leisure and Hospitality
  • +2% Construction (especially for infrastructure, including Lindbergh Field, military and educational structures)
  • +2% Wholesale Trade
  • +1% respectively for Information, Retail Trade, Government

Moreover, Moss anticipates that Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate will remain practically unchanged, while utilities will see a loss of 1%, due to moves towards online and digital processes.

Observations by Moss of occupational trends include the following:

  • 159 local firms are now involved in ‘green construction’
  • These firms are optimistic about hiring
  • These firms seek electricians, carpenters, and HVAC techs ( those with green skills and experiences)
  • Green occupations account for 13% of San Diego’s economy
  • Overall estimated growth for San Diego’s economy will be 10% (overall employment growth will be 5.5%)

In addition to the data presented by the two business people, guest speaker Rita Jones of the Chancellor’s office statewide career development advisory committee, explained, at length, the features and functionality of www.cacareercafe.com, a website developed by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.  Among the help on the website are the following:

  • Job Searching
  • Career planning
  • Goal-setting tips
  • Resume writing
  • Tips on how to market one’s self, including interviewing and networking

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Lindquist is Managing Editor of the GC Summit.  He may be contacted at [email protected]