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A Vital Conversation

Have you considered the relationship between education and economic development? The City of Menifee hosted a round table on the subject last month, and I have been ruminating on the discussion since then. The presence of education, government, and business leaders demonstrates to me that an increasing number of influencers in our community take the issue seriously. Education plays a pivotal role in workforce development, so these conversations are vital for our economic growth.

It was a thoughtful discussion with valuable insights and highlights.

  • Mayor Zimmerman’s passion for education was apparent. He expressed desire that students develop a greater understanding of technology as they prepared for the workforce. His observations and questions helped foster an energetic conversation; we can be thankful that he convened this meeting and is invested in education.
  • Mt. San Jacinto College was well-represented at the event and demonstrated again why they play a such vital role in the region. Their new initiatives, programs, and pending construction demonstrate acute awareness of community and student needs. I was particularly impressed with the compassionate steps they are taking to address food insufficiency and barriers to employability within their student population.
  • A number of attendees emphasized the importance of soft skills in the workforce, noting that businesses were desperate to find hires with the social skills, communication skills, and integrity to succeed on the job.
  • Menifee USD’s Superintendent Dr. Steve Kennedy highlighted the importance of students’ socio-emotional well-being and shared about his district’s efforts to address the issue. Dr. Kennedy’s perspective resonated with me in light of conversations I have had with K-12 leaders and higher education professionals. Students’ social and emotional challenges have reached crisis levels and are becoming a barrier to their success in the classroom.
  • A colleague in private higher education brought up the rapid rate of change in our society and the importance of supporting adults through their career changes. Since most people will change careers five or more times in life, it behooves education, government agencies, and businesses to incorporate adults career transitions into their planning.

I was encouraged to hear what was shared and left convinced that the roundtable was a step forward for education and economic development. Not only did we have the opportunity to learn from one another, but it provided a valuable setting for us to renew old connections and become acquainted with new potential partners.

I am excited about the valuable contributions Azusa Pacific’s Murrieta Regional Campus will be able to make in the season ahead. We offer the kinds of programs adults need to pursue a new career, including bachelors and graduate programs in business, criminal justice, digital media, education, and psychology. Our graduates from the valley have had a deep impact in these fields over the last three decades due to the transformational, Christ-centered education offered in small classes by our faculty-mentors. We are excited about the difference they will make in our community in the future.

Written by Dr. Drake Levasheff

Drake Levasheff, PhD, Senior Director, Murrieta Regional Campus Azusa Pacific University.

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