Manufacturing Workforce Development – Valley Vision & Center of Excellence

Valley Vision, a regional nonprofit, that is “shaping change by setting a long-term vision to influence a regional agenda that aligns diverse interests to achieve greater impact” facilitated a discussion amongst educators and manufacturing/mechanical trades employers.

The program sponsored by the City of West Sacramento, Sacramento City College and the Center of Excellence began with an opening by Trish Kelly, managing director at Valley Vision, who laid the foundation for the meeting by describing the stakeholders in the room and an overview of the regional workforce landscape.

After the landscape overview, Aaron Wilcher, the director of the North/Far North region for the Center of Excellence (COE), walked the stakeholders in the room through research conducted by the COE. The research focused on the needs that manufacturing/mechanical trades employers are seeking to fill as well as the gaps they are finding in the talent that is applying for these jobs.

Key Takeaways:

  • The demand for mechanical and repair technicians will increase between 7 and 26% in 24 months.
  • 84% of participating employers identified there to be at least a moderate level of difficulty in hiring with a 37% of them identifying hiring of quality M&R technicians to be extremely difficult.
  • 62% of employers identified that retention of these employees was not difficult.
  • Wages:
    • Entry Level ($17 – $18 per hour)
    • Experiences – 3 years of experience ($25 – 26 per hour)
  • 58% of respondents preferred or required their candidates to at least have a high school diploma or equivalent.

Following the in-depth analysis of the data, Trish Kelly moderated a panel discussion with three industry members.


  • Adam Sroufe, Director of Labor, Pacific Coast Producers
  • Bryan Tannehill, Operations Service Manager, Siemens Mobility
  • Adriaan Jansen, Production Equipment Maitenance Supervisor, Tri Tool, Inc.

A common theme shared amongst all of the industry representatives was the need for soft skills. The employers were happy to employ younger individuals straight out of high school that had a baseline knowledge of the industry but had a high level of competency and application of soft skills. Training typically occurred in-house as process and machines tended to be specific to each organization. Thus,

Overall Takeaways:

  1. Soft skills are a barrier to higher potential talent in filling these high demand jobs.
  2. Marketing of how these jobs provide a living wage early in a career is vital for employers to fill the gap in their employment.