Community And Business Leaders Unite To Improve High Desert Workforce

By Staff Reports

(Victorville) — High Desert business and educational leaders are coming together to create a better educated and readily employable workforce by the year 2020.  The initiative is a community call to action and mentorship program for students to achieve their high school diploma concurrently with their community college degree or vocational certificate in the emergent areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts or Math (STEAM).

“STEAM 2020 is our goal to make sure every child and adult in the High Desert will be prepared for the 21st Century Workforce,” said Dr. Dale Marsden, superintendent of the Victor Elementary School District. “I think there’s a real sense urgency now. This economy has been hit pretty hard. Our unemployment is reaching 22% in some areas, and upwards of 35% of people now require some form of assistance. So it’s time to get people working again and build the kind of education system to get them the skills that are necessary to be successful in the world of work.”

In late August Dr. Marsden met with strategic community leaders as well as local businessmen that collectively employ more than 400 people in the critical industries to discuss the project.

“We’ve received support from our political leaders, our community college president, our local area superintendents for the High Desert, business leaders, community leaders, and faith-based leaders,” said Marsden. “Now it’s just a matter of continuing the conversation, identifying the barriers, identifying the barrier owners, and then having each barrier owner commit to an action plan that they’ll do to get closer to that vision.”

Business owners joining Marsden to lead the charge include Craig Garrick of ComAv;

Eric Schmidt of Exquadrum; Bill Scott of Scott Turbon Mixer; and Ryan McEachron of ISU-ARMAC Insurance Agency. Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon’s (R-Santa Clarita) representative Michael Orme also pledged the Congressman’s support.

The four men have not only contributed financially to the cause, but pledged to provide an array of services to ensure the program is successful, such as job shadowing, project based lectures and real-world learning applications tied to scholarship opportunities for students and adults.

“It’s a huge goal,” Marsden said.  “I’m going to ask each stakeholder to agree on one thing that they will do, and that they’ll commit to, to achieve that goal. And if every stakeholder involved n the conversation will do just one thing to get closer to that goal then we can build the kind of momentum we need to actually achieve that goal by the year 2020.”

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