The San Diego North Economic Development Council (SDNEDC) is launching an initiative designed to connect industry and education partners – and bridge the crucial gap between job explorers and their future careers.

This week (Dec. 13), the SDNEDC unveiled the Student Opportunities for Career Awareness and Learning (SOCAL) initiative, a long-term workforce development effort designed to provide students and career explorers with direct access to information and first-hand experiences regarding potential occupations and career opportunities in North County.

The direct access and transparency fostered through this initiative are intended to help cultivate the workforce for middle-wage jobs that require less than a four-year college degree.

Premier Business and Educational Institutions

The coalition supporting SOCAL represent many of the region’s premier business and educational institutions, including Tri-City Medical Center, the Oceanside, Carlsbad and Vista Chambers of Commerce; MiraCosta College and Palomar College.

San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond, who represents much of North County, supported the partners’ efforts to secure a $128,000 Neighborhood Reinvestment Grant from the County of San Diego, which was instrumental to the development and launch of SOCAL.

Initially designed by Tri-City Medical Center as part of their COASTAL Commitment community outreach initiative, SOCAL will roll out in phases, with the initial phase being the launch of an interactive website to be unveiled during the SDNEDC’s North County Economic Excellence Luncheon on December 16.

Website Features On-Demand Videos

The website includes on-demand videos featuring over 40 professionals from across North County’s diverse industries representing healthcare, manufacturing, communication technology, construction, software and more.

In the videos, these professionals discuss their industry, job responsibilities, workplace environments and career advancement outlooks.

Each video includes a webpage with expected average wages as well as links to educational resources.

In subsequent phases, the initiative will expand to include an ongoing career-day speakers’ bureau, shadowing experiences and internships and other workforce development resources designed to position SOCAL as a central force in the region’s labor pipeline.

Cultivating Top Talent

“North County is a vibrant economic hub, thanks largely due to the collaboration between organizations like those partnering to form SOCAL,” said Erik Bruvold, SDNEDC’s chief executive officer. “This program is intended to continue strengthening the position of our region by cultivating top talent close to home for every level of the labor market.”

Accessibility, equity and inclusion are hallmarks of the SOCAL initiative. Through SOCAL’s interactive website, students and job explorers are empowered to identify, evaluate and proactively pursue their future careers. The easy-to-use platform will connect them with occupational information and career opportunities within their local community that was previously inaccessible.

Supporting Future Workforce

“We believe supporting the SOCAL initiative not only helps support our future workforce, but also strengthens the health and prosperity of our region by advancing economic empowerment,” said Aaron Byzak, chief external affairs officer for Tri-City Medical Center and incoming chairman of the SDNEDC.

“By integrating education and workforce development through a platform that everyone can take advantage of, we hope to make economic advancement more equitable in North County,” Byzak added.

Job explorers, interested businesses and community members can learn more about the SOCAL initiative and experience SOCAL’s interactive website by visiting after December 16.