Top Skills Required to Secure High-Demand Marketing, Sales, and Operations Careers Identified by Advancing San Diego Business Working Group

WD-40 Among Ten Top Regional Employers Working Collaboratively to Define Skills Shortages in Local Workforce and Inform Education and Training Programs

Advancing San Diego is a collaborative initiative to address skilled-talent shortages and increase diversity in high-growth, high-demand jobs. The initiative is helping San Diego meet its inclusive growth goals by strengthening relationships between local industry and education systems. Better alignment between these systems means the region can collectively prepare San Diegans for high-demand jobs, and local employers – many of which are small companies – can establish and expand recruitment relationships with locally-serving education institutions, including the region’s ten community colleges.

Over three years, Advancing San Diego partners will establish nine employer working groups to better define and communicate demand for critical jobs within innovation industries and identify education programs that prepare students for those jobs. The Business Working Groupwas made up of ten top employers from across the region’s top industries including: WD-40 Company, SDG&E, Union Bank, Cox, Confirm Biosciences, Red Door Interactive, Naval Information, Warfare Center Pacific, And Always, Zeeto, and Circadence.

Hiring Forecast and Core Skillsets Required

The group met several times across three months and recently completed its work of providing a snapshot of regional talent demand followed by outlining skills criteria for entry-level talent. Despite some adjustments resulting from last year’s public health and economic crisis, businesses in the work group continue to hire for operations, sales, and marketing roles with a projected need to fill more than 600 positions over the next three years. Of the surveyed business occupations, Product Management, Client Success, Business Development, and Operations Specialists were in highest demand among working group companies, accounting for 93% of total projections.

Creating a standard set of skills criteria required distinguishing between individual company hiring requirements and common occupational skill sets. The group focused on both hard and soft abilities in creating a list of 11 skills that all employers agreed are critical for entry-level business talent to demonstrate success in these roles.

WD-40’s Global Talent Director Rachelle Snook participated in the working group and provided additional insight on what her company is looking for today. “We can train for hard skills on the job. What we are looking for is someone that can be self-led, resourceful in their role, and demonstrate the ability to solve problems,” Snook said.

WD-40 outsources its manufacturing and logistics and focuses most of its hiring on professional- level positions insales, business engagement, supply chain management, and finance. “The ability to operate with a data-driven mindset is critical for these roles. We look for people with a basic understanding of how to use data and a demonstrated ability to apply those theories and concepts to the job,” Snook continued.

The Growing Middle-Skill Opportunity

Employers in the working group were equally open to hiring candidates with associate or bachelor’s degrees. WD-40 removed specific degree requirements from entry-level job descriptions five years ago to open up the talent pool and find more qualified candidates.

There is no data to support any change in success rates between workers with two-year or four-year degrees. It is about the person.

The region’s 10 community colleges have reviewed the working group findings and are currently updating the sales, marketing, and operations courses available to students to alignwith employer hiring needs. The colleges currently provide 21 two-year, middle-skill business training courses with plans for additional sales, management, and entrepreneurship programs over the next year.