David Gruber and Caz Pereira, after long experience in workforce development, recognized a need to do more to prepare disadvantaged and disconnected Californians for economic success in a changing economy.
Driven by the increasing importance of post-secondary education in preparing job seekers for a family sustaining wage, Gruber and Pereira developed a strategic approach bringing together employers, community colleges, government and foundations in creation of pathways to high wage, high growth jobs.
In 2003, Gruber and Pereira, working with United Airlines, San Mateo County, Alameda County, and Genentech developed a program to retrain United Airlines mechanics laid off after 9/11 for jobs in bio-tech manufacturing. The program expanded to include 10 other bio-tech employers, and received the Recognition of Excellence Award from the US Department of Labor.
With $5 million in support from government and funders including the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the PG&E Foundation, and the Noyce Foundation, Growth Sector in succeeding years has served as a catalyst in developing career pathways in sectors including bio-tech, energy and utilities, teaching and engineering. Growth Sector’s programs include formal education, student support, industry-specific internships and professional skill development. We have the unique opportunity to design programs that address specific gaps in our economy, as well as operate “on the ground” to administer programs and support participants.