Central Valley Region

Eight Counties: Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare

Decarbonization requires a larger workforce, higher technology integration skills

More than 15,000 annual job openings indicate unmet potential in the Central Valley’s advanced energy economy. Environmental and Equity progress requires advances in workforce development to decarbonize communities and create economic mobility for their residents. Significant educational and workforce development gaps must be overcome to drive decarbonization in the region.

Our Process:
Three-Part Data Analysis

TESC cultivates regional collaboratives that prioritize workforce initiatives to drive the triple bottom line of Economy, Environment, and Equity


Aligning workforce development priorities with regional economic initiatives
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Building essential workforce skills to support regional decarbonization
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Creating career opportunities for members of Disadvantaged Communities
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Throughout its history, the San Joaquin Valley — the vast middle of California, home to 4.3 million residents and the greatest agricultural bounty on earth — has defied quick or easy fixes. In good times and bad, it has trailed the rest of California on practically every socioeconomic measure the experts can quantify: unemployment, poverty, educational achievement, health. In July 2019, six of the ten highest metropolitan unemployment rates in the country were found in the Valley, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The bureau’s records cover 389 metropolitan areas.

“When people refer to us as the ‘Appalachia of the West,’ the ‘Valley of the poor,’ it takes its toll,” said Benjamin Duran, who leads the Central Valley Higher Education Consortium, a nonprofit aimed at improving the region’s workforce skills through education. “For years, for decades, it’s suffered from low self-esteem.”

The high-speed rail project so far has been less of an economic catalyst than a symbol of how difficult it is to bring change to the Valley.

Although it’s created thousands of construction jobs, the project is plagued with significant cost overruns and delays. It will be years before the initial segment, linking Merced with Bakersfield, is completed. What’s more, Newsom expressed doubt about whether the rail line will ever extend beyond the Valley and connect with the Bay Area and Southern California. That statement helped spark a funding dispute with the Trump administration, putting billions of federal dollars for the project at risk.

The suggestion that the rail line might be cut short didn’t go over well in the Valley, where high-speed rail was already viewed by many as an out-of-control boondoggle that devours farmland but will deliver few tangible benefits. Now even some of its supporters in the business community are beginning to have doubts about the project’s viability.

Source: Sacramento Bee, September 26, 2019 https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/big-valley/article233551287.html

Economy | Environment | Equity
Deep Education Gaps Underlie Economic Distress

Workforce capacity continues to lag construction volume, contributing to housing shortages and increases in the cost of living. TESC facilitates synchronized regional workforce development initiatives to help bridge this gap.

Highlights: New initiatives are needed to build a workforce that can stem housing shortages and apply competencies to implement the region’s decarbonization agenda.
Economy | Environment | Equity
High-skill Occupational Clusters in Greatest Demand

Central Valley regional economic growth is creating almost 16,000 job openings annually in the Energy, Construction, and Utilities Sector. These new positions support further economic growth and help drive the triple bottom line.

Highlights: A complex mix of education and training programs are needed to build capacity for serving these workforce priorities.
Economy | Environment | Equity


The Valley suffers on multiple levels. Its pollution is so bad, it has its own page on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website, which says the region has “some of the nation’s worst air quality, high rates of childhood asthma, and contaminated drinking water.”

The San Joaquin Valley has some of the nation’s worst air quality, failing to meet federal health standards for both ozone (smog) and particulate pollution. This is a result of the valley’s topography – surrounding mountain ranges trap air pollutants — and pollution sources, including heavy truck traffic on I-5 and Highway 99; diesel-burning locomotives, tractors and irrigation pumps; and wood-burning stoves and fireplaces.

Technological advances in engines, emission controls and clean energy hold great promise for reducing air pollution and creating jobs in the valley. EPA provides funds to support research and development. EPA also funds medical research on the health effects of pollutants and factors that make certain populations, such as children and the elderly, more vulnerable.

Thousands of Valley residents drink water tainted with arsenic, nitrates and other dangerous chemicals. The Legislature in July enacted SB 200 to dedicate $130 million a year on cleaning up contaminated water systems.

Source: https://www.epa.gov/sanjoaquinvalley/epa-activities-cleaner-air

Economy | Environment | Equity
Concentrations of Poor Environmental Quality

Communities most impacted by environmental issues span the Central Valley, reflecting the impact of agricultural fuels and fertilizers on water and groundwater. Significant health issues are common in the region, attributable in part to environmental conditions.

Highlights: More than 1.3M Central Valley residents live in the highest quartile of poor environmental quality among all communities in the state.
Economy | Environment | Equity
The Workforce Opportunity

Heavy industrial and power generation sites are the target of California’s Cap and Trade Legislation. Heavy traffic corridors are major pollution sources as well. Complex site-level and community-scale decarbonization projects will require significant new workforce competencies for advanced technology integration.

Emerging Occupations

  • Database Systems operators
  • Data analytics specialists
  • Coders and programmers
  • digital energy systems
    • Designers
    • Integrators
    • Operators
  • Digital Energy network specialists
    • Cybersecurity specialists
  • Digital programming specialists
    • Microgrid-associated technologies and networks
    • Energy auditing,surveying and benchmarking
    • Energy modeling
  • CAD/CAM drafters and operators
  • Energy systems
    • Sales specialists
    • Product marketing specialists
Highlights: Significant upgrades to education and training programs are required for essential technologies that can achieve environmental improvement in distressed communities and beyond.
Economy | Environment | Equity


Key Findings from The San Joaquin Valley Public Health Consortium

  • The San Joaquin Valley (SJV) faces higher levels of adverse birth outcomes than other parts of California.  During the study period, the proportion of preterm births was greater within the SJV region, 9.4%, than the state, 8.8%.
  • Rates of both teen birthing and adverse birth outcomes were higher for low income women of color living in neighborhoods with fewer economic opportunities and higher pollution. 
  • Children in the SJV have higher rates of preventable hospitalizations than other California children do, and there are broad disparities in these events by individual- and neighborhood-level factors.
  • If children of color in the SJV had similar preventable hospitalization rates as their white peers in affluent neighborhoods, there would be a 62% reduction in these events, a possible costs savings of $19,113,621.
  • SJV residents are more likely to die before age 65 and lose more years of life after age 65 than other Californians.
  • Elders in the SJV have higher use of avoidable hospitalizations and lower use of planned elective surgeries than do their peers in the rest of California

Source: http://www.fresnostate.edu/chhs/cvhpi/programs/sjvphcreportseries/index.html

Economy | Environment | Equity
Communities in Need: Environmental Justice

Disadvantaged Communities are disproportionally affected by environmental issues. Mitigation or removal of environmental impacts is essential to quality of life for more than 2.2M Central Valley residents. Hover over each population for a total count.

Highlights: These communities are among the most environmentally disadvantaged in the region. Environmental justice requires large scale measures to improve quality of life for community members.
Economy | Environment | Equity
Communities in Need: Social Equity

Social and economic mobility challenges are more severe in Disadvantaged Communities. Workforce development solutions are needed to create pathways out of poverty, requiring strong regional action.

Highlights: Social equity is a serious issue for members of these communities, adding the need for family wage jobs to health issues associated with poor environmental quality.
Economy | Environment | Equity
Abundant Job Opportunities, Targeted Workforce Development Required

More than 15,000 job openings are projected annually for the Central Valley Energy, Construction, and Utilities Sector through 2022. TESC partnerships with community-based organizations and industry create a strong platform for pathways out of poverty.

The chart below displays median ECU hourly earnings as well as the living wage as calculated for the greater Sacramento area.

Highlights: Significant opportunities exist in middle-skill jobs for which members of Disadvantaged Communities can be trained and employed.
Economy | Environment | Equity