Imperial Valley College Programs Train for Resilient, Living Wage Careers
As the country heads toward economic recovery and unemployment dropped to 6.1 percent nationally, the Imperial Valley continues to suffer with the state’s highest unemployment rate of 15.7 percent. Pandemic-related layoffs have displaced many workers while businesses continue to struggle to find qualified candidates for critical positions. At the same time, the sectors with the some of the highest employment opportunity rates – farm work, retail, and more recently, leisure and hospitality – typically pay below the $13.20 per hour living wage standard for a family living in the county with two working adults and two school-aged children.
Creating long-term economic vitality will require a concerted, regional effort to identify and invest in growth employment sectors, train skilled workers, and pair them with employers to fill essential positions. The first step in that process was addressed by Resilient Jobs, a new research report from the San Diego & Imperial Center of Excellence for Labor Market Research. The report analyzed occupations that experienced employment growth or stability during the Great Recession and compared to them to data from online job openings posted between March and December 2020 to determine which occupations remain in high demand despite the current economic downturn.
A Powerful Tool for Economic Recovery
Of the more than 800 occupations in the standard classification system, 45 were found to be recession-resilient and 123 remained in high-demand during the pandemic. Of the pandemic-resilient positions identified, 51 are middle-skill jobs trainable in less than two years, many of them locally at Imperial Valley College including seven of the top programs:
• Medical assistant
• Bookkeeping and audit clerk
• Network administrator
• Executive assistant or supervisor
• Retail sales management
• Cybersecurity specialist
This list of 51 pandemic-resilient, middle-skill careers represents hope for displaced workers, a commitment to meet the needs of regional employers, and a road map for community investment. For workers, course work and training for the majority of these in-demand jobs can be completed in as little as two years or 60 credit units. At a cost of $46 per unit, workers can train for a new career for an average cost of $2,760. With entry-level salaries for the top recession- and pandemic-resilient middle skills jobs averaging $47,000 per year, the investment in education will begin increasing personal income in less than a year when compared to minimum wage earnings.
As Imperial Valley continues to grapple with high unemployment, this research provides actionable information that can help workers train for better paying careers, ensure educational institutions are meeting employer needs, and guide regional leaders as they invest in the future of our economy.Back to CE Blog