Local Harvest: Developing the Central Valley Workforce for California's Future Agriculture
Apr 15, 2014
Publisher: Milken Institute

California's Central Valley is home to some of the most fertile land in the world. With the region consistently leading the nation in agricultural production, it serves as a hotbed for agribusiness and manufacturing innovation. However, the region also suffers from underinvestment and substandard educational attainment levels, which hamper its ability to both modernize the agriculture value chain and to provide significant advancement opportunities for workers.

To explore how best to overcome these barriers, address concerns that curtail investment in the Central Valley, and boost the local economy, the Institute convened regional stakeholders at a workshop at the University of California, Merced, in May 2013. This discussion and subsequent phone conversations and follow-up meetings identified the human capital needs of the agricultural sector in the Central Valley as a priority

Contrary to perception, the agricultural value chain has significant need for skilled and semi-skilled workers. A better-trained workforce will improve not only the economic health of the region but also the prosperity of the entire state. Our research and the feedback from key stakeholders in business and education concur: The region's workforce can be improved by mechanisms that link workers to demonstrated employer need. To address these key issues, we convened a working roundtable at Fresno Pacific University in October 2013.

The recommendations of this report are adapted directly from the conclusions reached during the roundtable by the stakeholders and Milken Institute.

This report identifies key obstacles the region faces and provides guidance to policymakers and economic developers on how to solve them. We hope the information in this report will serve as a roadmap for moving California's Central Valley towards a more prosperous future.