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Building a Local Talent Pipeline: Chamber Sees Collaboration & Expansion in Workforce Development Pr

Building a Local Talent Pipeline: Chamber Sees Collaboration & Expansion in Workforce Development Programming


Over the past year, the Chamber has expanded its Workforce Development programs and partnerships initiatives. “Ensuring businesses can count on a pipeline of workers trained for local jobs & careers” is one of the organization’s strategic priorities, and we continue to work on expanding our educational partnerships and developing a strong regional talent pipeline to meet business and community needs. Below, we outline some of the new partnerships, programs and developments we’ve seen in our workforce development programming.


State of Education event provides updates, community input and networking

The 2024 State of Education Event included a program that provided valuable updates from the County Education Office and Allan Hancock College around how our community is preparing our students for the workforce. The event also included facilitated discussions with the audience to gather community feedback around workforce development challenges, and time for networking with our education partners showcasing workforce programs businesses could engage in.

“Our schools are working hard to prepare students for a wide range of careers and further educational endeavors,” explained Dr. Susan Salcido, Superintendent of Schools and one of the presenters at the State of Education. “Here in the Santa Maria Valley, we are grateful for partners like the Chamber that are engaging the local business community with our schools and creating meaningful opportunities for students. Together, we are investing in the future workforce of Santa Maria Valley. Our recent State of Education event is an excellent example of how we’re connecting with the community and showing how community members and businesses can get involved in workforce efforts.”


Chamber advocates for Allan Hancock College’s 4 year degree program

The Chamber has been a strong advocate of Allan Hancock College’s efforts to bring a 4-year degree program to their campus. Having more opportunities locally for our youth to get a higher level education means our business community will have a stronger pool of applicants for local jobs.
“Hancock has applied to offer a Bachelor of Science Applied Professional Studies, a career technical program that prepare graduates for a variety of entry-level positions in areas such as sales, office management, logistics, and human resources,” explained Job Hooten, Executive Director for College Advancement at Allan Hancock College “This is a critical step for local students who want to continue their education but who cannot move away for college.  It is also an important part of the local economic landscape to provide local business and industry with that next generation of professionals. When it was time to demonstrate community support for our application, the Chamber was our first call to help gather dozens of letters of support from business leaders attesting to the need and value of bachelor’s-level education in the Santa Maria Valley.”


Teacher Tours program expands reach through new partnerships
The Chamber continues its partnership with the Santa Barbara County Education Office’s (SBCEO) Career Technical Education (CTE) Program on its CTE Industry Teacher Tours program. Once a month, CTE teachers spend a day connecting with businesses in the career pathway they teach to learn more about local jobs available and skills students would need to be successful. The program is in its second year and has expanded to include teachers from Allan Hancock College and the Center for Employment Training.


SBCEO's collaboration with the Santa Maria Valley Chamber has proven highly beneficial for local CTE teachers. The CTE Teacher Industry Tours program not only offers CTE teachers a chance to stay informed about the latest industry practices but also empowers them to incorporate newfound knowledge into their classroom instruction,” explained Sarah Cameron,  the Director for Career Technical Education for the Santa Barbara County Education Office. “The success of the program is evident in its expansion, now including partnerships with higher education. As we further enhance and align our Santa Maria Valley K-14+ career pathways, we are actively preparing our future local workforce.”

Additional information on the Teaher Tours program can be found at 

Chamber Continues Partnership & Participation in Partners in Education Career Readiness Training

Partners in Education offers a robust job readiness training program for local high school students, which includes career coaching, mock interviews and the opportunity to intern at local businesses. The Chamber remains actively involved in connecting the business community to this program to help provide additional workplace exposure for local students. The Chamber is also an active participant, with staff serving as career coaches and volunteering for mock interviews. The Chamber recently hired a student intern to help with their communications and administrative tasks. (You can learn more about Noemi, the Chamber’s student intern, on page X).

“Partners in Education provides essential programming that helps prepare local students for the workplace,” explained Molly Schiff, Director of Advocacy & Initiatives for the Santa Maria Valley Chamber. “We are thankful to be able to partner with their organization by participating in these programs, and connecting other local businesses to these opportunities that directly impact our future workforce.”

Additional information on Partners in Education’s internship program is available at


Leadership Santa Maria Valley offers Leadership growth & community connection for local professionals

The Chambers leadership program, Leadership Santa Maria Valley, is in its 29th year, and continues to provide important leadership development opportunities for local professionals looking to grow in their careers, or connect more with their local community. When looking at the full spectrum of workforce development, Leadership Santa Maria Valley plays an important role in making sure our local professionals have opportunities to continue their leadership development.
“It has been a privilege and a joy to participate in Leadership Santa Maria Valley. Born and raised in Santa Maria, I didn’t expect to learn and visit so many places I’d never been before and, in some cases, didn’t even know about,” explained Jamie Perez, Community Engagement Coordinator for the Santa Barbara Foundation. “I’ve made valuable and meaningful connections with my classmates. The leadership speakers have provided useful and encouraging instruction. I recommend this program to anyone who wants to see Santa Maria in a new way and to feel empowered to make an impact on the community.”

Additional information on Leadership Santa Maria Valley is available at 


Building a strong talent pipeline plays a critical role in making the Santa Maria Valley a great place to live, work and do business. The Chamber will continue to make this work a priority, and is looking forward to our new workforce development partnerships and program expansions to expand our impact in 2024.


Additional information on the Santa Maria Valley Chamber’s workforce development programs can be found at Or, email Molly Schiff, Director of Advocacy & Initiatives, at to learn how you and your business can get more involved in these efforts.


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