Cultivating Silicon Valley’s Workforce

Published on Oct 7, 2009

Updated on Nov 3, 2022

Written by Emsi Burning Glass

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Tamara Carleton at New Geography has written an article on Silicon Valley, community colleges, and developing Northern California’s human capital that’s certainly worth reading. While elite universities like Stanford and Cal-Berkeley get all the attention, Carleton says, community colleges “provide the bedrock for the region’s university ecosystem.”

They channel bright students up the local educational chain, helping train and transfer them to the upper tiers. Within the Bay Area, the Foothill-De Anza Community College has served a diverse student body, which includes a combination of younger, older, and re-entry students, for over 50 years.

In particular, community colleges serve as a gateway to ambitious foreign-born talent. Foothill-De Anza admits more international students than any other community college in the U.S., notes Peter Murray, Foothill’s Dean of Physical Sciences, Mathematics and Engineering. Many of these students from outside the U.S. seek a natural entry to Silicon Valley. Once on a student visa, they aggressively pursue their career interests, often transferring to another state school, such as Stanford or the University of California system, to finish their degrees and join the local workforce. Others gain critical technical skills – such as in database management or bioinformatics – critical to operating sophisticated, technology-based companies.

You can check out the entire piece here.