San Joaquin County Employers Are Willing and Ready to Work with Schools to Prepare Students for Careers

[Stockton, CA – January 11th, 2024] Today, San Joaquin A+ is announcing the release of a new report titled, Better Together – San Joaquin County Employers Are Willing and Ready to Work with Schools to Prepare Students for Careers. The report shares information learned over six months of surveying and engagement with local employers. SJA+ shares key lessons learned about how school districts and employers can collaborate – and ultimately – serve students better together.

“We are so appreciative of all our employers and partners for their participation and engagement through this process,” shared Kai Kung, Co-CEO of San Joaquin A+. “We hope this report provides information, clarity, and a roadmap for other employers who want to support our youth, or for schools who want to know more about how to prepare students for careers.”

A few of the key findings from the report include:

  1. 100% of employers surveyed believe it is very important for schools to offer opportunities for students to explore careers through internships or paid work opportunities.
  2. 81% of employers surveyed ranked “cultivating a pipeline of talent” as the most valuable aspect of a career-connected learning program, with giving back to the community coming in second.
  3. 75% of survey respondents are very interested in employing a paid intern/apprentice through this program right now.
  4. There was significant variation in the time of year, time commitments, and roles that employers from different industries indicated they would like to make available to interns.
  5. When asked what hire-ability skills are most important for youth interning with their companies, employers highlighted professional attitude to “take responsibility for their actions” as most important, and time management to “arrive on time and rarely be absent without cause” as the top two areas of priority.

Earlier this week, San Joaquin A+ hosted local employers and education leaders to preview a new report.

“We are grateful to San Joaquin A+ for elevating these findings for other employers in our region,” added Louie Heflen, Director of Employee Development for Holt of CA. “As an employer that took part in the intern pilot this past summer, we are excited to share what we learned, and to build on it to bring this program and experiences to more young people.”

The survey and focus groups that informed the report engaged nearly 50 leading employers in the region to better understand how they might be willing to work with students and schools. Specifically, 32 leading employers from different sectors participated in a survey about career-connected learning, and 13 participated in a series of focus groups, in both cases representatives from agriculture, education, healthcare, and the trades were included.

One further area of emphasis coming out of the report, is the need to ensure that these experiences are of high quality for students, while also meeting employer needs. The report lays out some of the barriers to work-based learning employers identified, and how intermediary organizations like San Joaquin A+ can help solve them.

“We have a unique business that requires our staff to get to know clients and spend significant amounts of time in their homes with their high-need children,” shared Leticia Robles, President, Pacific Home Care. “Reports like this are so important because they raise awareness of the needs of different industries and show schools and partners how to work together to maximize the student experience.”

The report also highlights positive examples emerging in each of the four industries of focus, as well as areas and opportunities to get involved. For each different audience, there are specific next steps the report recommends that can be taken. Employers, schools, and students can all learn more at: http://sjaplus.org/internships/

“As an organization, we are focused on creating partnerships and programs that lift up youth across our region,” concluded Shayla Walker, Senior Director of Career Connected Learning for San Joaquin A+. “We hope that those who read this report, and listened in on our webinar discussion, now see clearer pathways and opportunities to work together to do just that.”

About San Joaquin A+:

San Joaquin A+ is a group of educators, business leaders, active citizens and philanthropists. Collectively, the organization has supported education since 1996 and has almost a quarter century of experience and commitment to Stockton and SJ County. In order to create a system of great schools in our county, San Joaquin A+ collaborates with local families, education, and workforce partners to set a vision for how our community can prepare students to be successful and responsible citizens.