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CCRL California Center for Regional Leadership
Connecting California's Regions to the State and Each Other

200 Pine St., Ste. 400
San Francisco, CA 94104
Phone (415) 445-8975
Fax (415) 445-8974


Building a Workforce for the 21st Century: Workforce Development Policy that Invests in California's "Human Infrastructure" (2001)

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Our "structural" workforce crisis
Even as the national economy and California's regional economies currently are disturbed by a cyclical slow-down and possible downturn, the long-term prospect for most of California's regional economies continues strong. However, this prospect is put in jeopardy if we do not solve our short-term and long-term workforce crisis. This is as true of regional hyper-economies which may lose their competitive edge because of a shortage of skilled workers, as it is of underdeveloped regional economies which can only hope to grow or attract competitive companies and industries if they can offer the possibility of a skilled workforce.

Workforce quality matters more than ever to our economic strength
We have always known this, of course, that the strength of an economy is largely dependent upon the quality of our workforce. California cannot sustain its competitive edge and its quality of life without developing and maintaining a world-class workforce. According to the Governor's Economic Strategy Panel "The economic foundations that facilitate an industry's growth and expansion are capital, infra-structure, taxation and regulatory policies, education and workforce preparation [emphasis added], research laboratories and universities, and supplier networks." In the new knowledge-based economy, where competitive edge is almost always a narrow margin, this is even more important. And it is not only true of the so-called "high tech" industries, but very substantially in traditional manufacturing and service sectors as well. Put simply: competitiveness requires ever-increasing productivity in all economic sectors; increasing productivity requires improved use of new technologies; and knowledge is the key to that improvement.