Nov 02 2018

Orange County Business Council Releases 2019 Orange County Workforce Indicators Report

IRVINE, CA — Oct. 31, 2018  — Tech innovation and demographic shifts are catalysts driving major change in the Orange County workforce, according to Orange County Business Council’s 2019 Orange County Workforce Indicators Report released on October 30, but keeping young talent continues to be a challenge. 

Presented by Dr. Wallace Walrod, OCBC Chief Economic Advisor, the report was unveiled to over 300 attendees at the OCBC’s 17th Annual Orange County Workforce Development Conference, sponsored by Union Bank, at the Hotel Irvine. Dr. Walrod was joined in discussion of the report by the “Rapid Response Team” – a panel of experts including Paul Kagoo, Western Digital; Nick Newsom, YTEL; Mike Morper, Veritone; and Dr. Glenn Roquemore, Irvine Valley College.

According to the report findings, a new workforce environment is emerging – often referred to as the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” – which is dominated by digitalization, automation and artificial intelligence. In this fast-paced environment, 21st-century students and job seekers must build up “defensible” skills and career education to adapt and thrive with the onset of new technologies.

Orange County is uniquely equipped to face these changes, with a “strong, diverse economy” and a “higher educational attainment than peer regions,” says Dr. Walrod. The regional unemployment rate is 2.8% and falling, and Orange County boasts the lowest high school dropout rate in the region with over half of graduates eligible for University of California and California State University enrollment. 

In addition, the area’s robust community college system supports the installation of adaptable skills in the Orange County workforce, having enrolled 300,000 students in 2017 while supporting 80,000 jobs and providing $6.4 billion in economic impacts.

Furthermore, “middle-skill” jobs which are not easily replaced by automation technologies are on the rise – including healthcare and social assistance, finance and insurance, manufacturing, retail, and professional, scientific and technical service occupations. 

However, shifting demographics pose challenges for county employers, who currently face skills gaps. They have difficulty finding middle-skill workers due to an aging population and a need for an increased housing supply, according to Dr. Walrod. In 2018, adults aged 65 and up were the largest age group, and millennials represented only 21.2% of Orange County’s population – with over 7,000 having moved out of the region in 2017.

The conference theme, “From Defense to Game-Changing Offense: How OC’s Workforce Can Lead the Way,” also featured a robust keynote presentation from Dr. Tad Funahashi, Chief Innovation Officer for Kaiser Permanente Southern California, who shared Kaiser Permanente’s innovations in healthcare delivery with advances in virtual care, big data and artificial intelligence.

In addition, the new report, “Dimensions of Defensibility: Human-Centered Design in an Automated Workplace,” released by OC Pathways in partnership with the Orange County Business Council and the Orange County Department of Education, was unveiled at the conference. The report uses big data and advanced labor market analytics to demonstrate the impact of automation on the workplace, which careers and skills will thrive in the new economy, and how workers can adapt to these changes in Orange County and beyond.

To view the 2019 Workforce Indicators Report, CLICK HERE


About OCBC
Orange County Business Council is the leading voice of business in Orange County, California. OCBC represents and promotes the business community, working with government and academia, to enhance Orange County’s economic prosperity in order to preserve a high quality of life. In providing a proactive forum for business and supporting organizations, OCBC helps assure the financial growth of America’s sixth largest county. For more information, visit

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