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Plan urges locals to train for in-demand jobs

Posted: 6:47 PM, Mar 01, 2016
Updated: 2016-03-02 02:47:44Z

Thousands of high-paying jobs are open in San Diego, but companies are still struggling to find people to fill them.

Now, the city has a plan to train tomorrow's workforce today -- and it may hold the key to bigger paychecks.

Mayor Kevin Faucloner's task force on jobs unveiled the plan at Qualcomm's Thinkabit Lab Tuesday, as dozens of students from El Cajon's Hillsdale Middle School learned to program.

When 13-year-old Alexi Grabia typed the number 180 into her laptop, she commanded a small submarine propeller to spin.

"We're hoping it will propel something, perhaps research things underwater," Grabia said as she worked with a team on her lab assignment.

The Thinkabit Lab tries to propel students into pursuing careers in the sciences, where there is money to be made.

"I still just think science is really cool and I really love engineering," said Grabia.

However, not everyone develops the passion as quickly.

"Last year, I was just into language and stuff like that," said 13-year-old student Elais Meameri.

That's the reason behind the plan released Tuesday by Faulconer's OpportunityWORKS Task Force. It spells out how to get students thinking about science, by adding education programs, promoting summer jobs and giving economic incentives to companies that expand in underserved areas.

"We have students that have never crossed the [Interstate] 8 freeway that come to Qualcomm, most think they're going to the stadium," said Ed Hidalgo, the company's senior director of staffing.

The plan will urge students to pursue jobs in advanced manufacturing, clean tech, health care, information technology and biotech.

San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten announced that SeaWorld and defense contractor Raytheon would also be creating hands on experiences for students.

Grabia said she wants to go to college in the Pacific Northwest and pursue a career out of this world.

"I really like astronomy, and I like the idea of extraterrestrial life and going out and finding new places," she said.