Education/Training Tech Events October 5, 2018 BY Erika Kosina

Second Tech Talent Forum Works to Better Align Tech Companies and Local Workforce

There’s a conundrum in our community that Nevada County Tech Connection’s Talent Development task force is working to solve – helping to connect trained tech professionals with local tech companies and to ensure that Nevada County residents have relevant tech skills. The team recently hosted the second in a series of Tech Talent Forums designed to enhance awareness of Nevada County tech companies and tech talent needs. Local tech companies love to hire local people, but those people need to have the right skills. They also need to be aware of the breadth of tech opportunities in Nevada County. Most Nevada County residents would be thrilled to find a job that is close to home, but they often don’t realize the broad range of skills that plenty of local companies are looking for: computer information systems, software engineering, digital media, electrical, mechanical and civil engineering, mechatronics, advanced manufacturing, and more. Second Tech Talent Forum Explored Three Challenges On September 26, over 30 attendees from local tech companies, workforce development organizations, and educational institutions attended a working meeting at Nevada Union High School.  The goal of the Forum was to figure out how to connect tech businesses and schools with programs that foster appropriate skills development and student career exploration. Attendees worked together in small groups to come up with solutions and action steps for three challenges that were uncovered at the last Tech Talent Forum, which was held in May: building awareness of NC Tech companies and their career opportunities among local students and the larger community, creating business-led educational experiences for local students, and advancing professional development options for interns, newer tech professionals, and tech professionals who are ten years into their careers. Educators and Tech Professionals Working Together Nevada Joint Union High School District Superintendent Brett McFadden emceed the event, with assistance from Sierra College’s Executive Dean, Stephanie Ortiz and AJA’s Engineering Department Manager, Bob Hudelson. They engaged an audience that included Nevada County Superintendent of Schools Scott Lay, former Nevada Joint Union High School District Superintendent Dr. Louise Johnson, workforce development groups like the Business and Career Network and Connecting Point, and representatives from tech companies including AJA, Applied Science, Autometrix, Clientworks, Grass Valley, A Belden Brand, Gyro-Stabilized Systems, Locks Media Associates, the Nevada City Film Festival, Nevada Irrigation District, Smarter Broadband, and Traitware. Discussions among the break-out groups were intense and lively, and many groups independently came up with similar ideas that they shared with the larger group at the end of the session. The group ultimately selected the following ideas to take action on:
  • a tech-oriented career day or career fair for middle school through junior college students
  • student-created videos that depict a day in the life of various tech and science jobs
  • using the Tech Connection website as a central hub for school districts looking to place students in tech internships
  • a mentoring program for interns and early-in-career tech professionals.
  • Tech forum thinkers
The Talent Development task force invites anyone interested in working on or contributing to transforming any of these ideas into reality to contact Heidi Lyss at the Nevada County Tech Connection at heidilyss.cel@gmail.com. This task force meets monthly, and will be working to review the suggestions from the Forum and confirming next steps and action plans.