VIA has been privileged to enjoy the support of the Santa Clarita Valley’s CEOs for many years. Please take a moment to review some of the history of the VIA CEO Forums, and to gain some insight into the programs and projects that have developed out of Forums over the years.
In 1995, VIA sponsored their first CEO Forum, bringing together chief executives, community leaders and educators to discuss the business community’s training needs and workforce plans. At that gathering, CEOs emphasized the need to re-engineer and re-tool the local workforce if they were to be successful in diversifying from defense to commercial manufacturing, and in expanding to new markets. As a result, the Valley Industrial Association and College of the Canyons Employee Training Institute began working together to fund a “retraining” initiative in the SCV. An Employment Training Panel project was developed through College of the Canyons and through that program, millions of dollars in training funds to support skill upgrade training have been provided to thousands employees in the SCV.
In 1999, a similar group met to focus on key skills for success in the rapidly changing economy. Top priorities identified at that Forum included communication, problem-solving and team skills. In response, VIA developed the Valley Industrial Association Website Contest, an annual competition which ran for five years for K–12 students. Students worked with a local company partner to build websites for their partner, many of which were adopted and incorporated by SCV businesses.
Our third CEO Forum was held in 2002. This time, an overwhelming need emerged for entry level employees to have “Basic Business Conduct” skills. Students entering the workforce needed to be better equipped with fundamental skills and work ethics. Through this event, VIA built a program based on curriculum provided by Junior Achievement and the “Connecting to Success” program was born. In 2002, the program trained 500 high school juniors. This fall, in our seventh year, the program will train more than 2000 high school students from the Santa Clarita Valley.
In 2004, the Forum indicated a clear goal of local business to develop outreach to our adjacent counties and resulted in the creation a tri-county Regional Executive Summit with special focuses on workforce housing and mobility. Additionally, recent economic challenges evolved the Summit into the subsequent return of the VIA B2B Industry Show held successfully this past June.
In 2009, CEOs unanimously indicated that basic skills and access to a skilled workforce were top priorities. VIA took that information to heart and grew the Connecting to Success Program to include all seven area high schools – we’ll train more than 2600 high school juniors in the fall of 2017. As well, we continue to support the business initiatives of College of the Canyons to help ensure a steady supply of skilled workers for our valley.
Based on ideas, suggestions and support from local business leaders, we anticipate remarkable results in the future as well.
For more information contact:
Kathy Norris, CEO/President of VIA