Vancouver Business Journal

Mon09012014

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New study examines economic impact of Vancouver Energy project

New study examines economic impact of Vancouver Energy project

A new report that estimates the short- and long-term socioeconomic impact of the...

Survey: ‘Likely voters’ approve of proposed crude oil facility

Survey: ‘Likely voters’ approve of proposed crude oil facility

A pair of surveys conducted in June by Portland-based DHM Research related to th...

Care providers ‘all in’ on infrastructure improvements

Care providers ‘all in’ on infrastructure improvements

Across Southwest Washington, healthcare providers are making significant capital...

Tracking Vancouver’s new waterfront park

Tracking Vancouver’s new waterfront park

The redevelopment of the old Boise-Cascade Mill site in downtown Vancouver has l...

Nutter Corp. to install utilities at Vancouver waterfront

Nutter Corp. to install utilities at Vancouver waterfront

Nutter Corporation has been authorized by the Port of Vancouver to make stormwat...

Northwest Grain Handlers, ILWU reach tentative agreement

Northwest Grain Handlers, ILWU reach tentative agreement

A two-year long dispute and eventual work stoppage over workplace rules between ...

Accounting & Finance

Getting money from the crowd

Getting money from the crowd

Crowdfunding is defined as the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people, typically via the Internet. In 2013, according to Forbes, the crowdfunding industry grew to be over $5.1 billion worldwide. Southwest Washington entrepreneurs are increasingly turning to crowdfunding to launch their ideas.

Easier access to money

Crowdfunding is...

Health Care & Hospitals

Care providers ‘all in’ on infrastructure improvements

Care providers ‘all in’ on infrastructure improvements

Across Southwest Washington, healthcare providers are making significant capital investments in infrastructure, in response to an increased number of patients (due the Affordable Care Act) and growing pressure for interoperability and integration among healthcare providers.

According to Ryan Ball, Peacehealth’s chief information officer, Peacehealth is in the midst of the second-largest capital i...

News Briefs

Local schools to benefit from $4 million STEM investment

Washington STEM, a statewide nonprofit advancing excellence, equity and innovation in STEM education, announced this week nearly $4 million in investments to regionally-based programs aimed at improving teaching and learning of science, engineering, technology and math across Washington state.

Spotlight

Clients flocking to The Tummy Team in Camas

Clients flocking to The Tummy Team in Camas

What began as a personal quest for Kelly Dean, owner of Camas-based The Tummy Team, has become a successful business venture and an opportunity to help heal thousands of people afflicted with the same injury she suffered from.

“I’ve been a physical therapist for over 15 years and I had three kids and my stomach kind of blew apart after my kiddos. I was told I could only have surgery,” Dean said. ...

WSUV prepares digitally savvy workforce

In order to survive and thrive, companies must understand the role digital media plays in their customers’ lives and begin finding ways to integrate digital media into their business plans.

In order to survive and thrive, companies must understand the role digital media plays in their customers’ lives and begin finding ways to integrate digital media into their business plans.

So said Dene Grigar, associate professor and director of Washington State University Vancouver’s Digital Technology and Culture program, the goal of which is to ensure graduates have the skills to deal with the increasing digital and technical demand.

By focusing on four main skills sets – critical thinking, computers and digital environments, communications and project management and teamwork – the program prepares “well-trained designers who can lead companies into the digital media world,” Grigar said.

Examples of careers for which DTC graduates are prepared include information architecture, public relations and marketing, digital media design and content strategy.

Digital explosion

A March 2007 study by IDC, a global market intelligence firm, predicted that digital data will increase six-fold by 2010.

“This explosive growth will change the way organizations and Information Technology professionals do their jobs,” said Mark Lewis, executive vice president of EMC, a Fortune 500 manufacturer of software and systems for information management and storage.

The DTC program’s enrollment is tracking business’ increased focus on all things digital. Enrollment in the program jumped from 77 in the fall of 2006 to 140 this fall. Grigar and fellow associate professor John Barber constantly seek feedback from local companies to determine what skills are needed, host lectures and workshops in the community and provide educational programs for public school and community college students.

While the information technology sector will appreciate graduates with broad critical, analytical, and communication skills, DTC graduates are not relegated to just computer-related industries. Arts-related industries also need technologically literate workers capable taking advantage of new digital technologies.

Such is the case at Techjet Imaging, a Vancouver-based large-format printing company, which hired DTC graduate Justin Lee last year.

“Justin is a poster child for the DTC program,” said TechJet Vice President Jason Beatty. “He was raised here, got his degree here, got a job here and is using his skills practically.”

Increasing demand for applied skills     

A 2006 study funded in part by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills found that “applied skills such as teamwork, critical thinking and communication are essential for success at work…These applied skills trump basic knowledge skills such as reading and mathematics in importance in the view of employers.”

In addition, almost 75 percent of those surveyed ranked “creativity and innovation” in the top five applied skills projected to increase in importance for future graduates.  

Recognizing this trend early on, WSUV’s DTC program was one of the first in the nation, Grigar said. It was founded in 1997. The program was so ahead of its time, the university didn’t know where to put it – finally placing it in the Department of English. It became a four-year degree program in 2003 and will become a stand-alone department in 2009. In addition, Grigar said, WSUV is considering adding an online DTC master’s program in 2010.

In the last 10 years, programs like the one at WSUV have emerged across the country – Grigar said there are now more than 500 in the United States – but WSUV is recognized as a trend-setter.

“We’re a destination major now,” Grigar said.

Real-world experience

Students in the DTC program often work on projects for local companies and nonprofit organizations. This work, said Grigar, represents a commitment to community outreach – the mission of a land-grant institution.

During their senior year, DTC students must complete either a 150-hour internship with a metro-area business or work on a project for a local nonprofit organization. Students have interned with PeaceHealth Hospital in Longview, Organic Products Trading Co. in Vancouver and the Vancouver City Planning Commission.

They have worked on pro bono projects for The Ark, Clark County Fire District 11 in Battle Ground, the At Home At School program and the Council for the Homeless. Plans for this fall include work with the Columbia River Economic Development Council and Fort Vancouver Community Television.

The local business community’s response to the program has been positive, Grigar said.

“Companies realize they need this kind of expertise,” she said.

Historically, Beatty said, students have had to go outside the area to gain this type of education – and may not have come back. The DTC program, he said, will do much to keep graduates local and serves as a “great source of qualified local candidates who are ready to go to work in the high-tech world.”

Bridgette Fahnbulleh, community voicemail coordinator for the Council for the Homeless, was enthusiastic about the DTC students’ work.

“We wanted a video we could give to the business community that explained our GoPhone Society,” Fahnbulleh said. The students, she said, did the cover, the soundtrack, taping, interviewing and wrote the script in two months.

She was so impressed with the students’ work, she plans on having them create a training video for case workers this fall.

Internships and projects, Barber said, provide students with real-world experience, a chance to develop a network of contacts and the opportunity to be mentored by professionals in the field. In addition, he said, students can develop a portfolio and learn the value of community service.

“It’s not so much about placing students in high-dollar opportunities but about finding a place where they can practice skills and appreciate the rewards of giving back to their community,” Barber said.

STATE RENEWS COMMITMENT TO HIGH-TECH WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

Recognizing the need for continued improvement in high-tech workforce skills, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed Senate Bill 6377 into law in March. The bill’s intent is to “identify the gaps in current laws and policies regarding secondary career and technical education and fill those gaps in a comprehensive fashion to create a coherent whole.”

Rick Meeder, American Electronics Association Washington Council executive committee member and education committee chair, called the bill a “comprehensive career and technical education bill.”

American Electronics Association is a nationwide nonprofit trade association that represents all segments of the technology industry.

According to the bill’s summary, it “seeks to increase the quality and rigor of secondary career and technical education, improve links to postsecondary education, encourage and facilitate academic instruction through career and technical courses and expand access to and awareness of the opportunities offered by high quality career and technical education.”

Opinion

Focus Column

The sweeping change in finance

The sweeping change in finance

There are big changes afoot in finance. The back office and middle office are moving forward by creating value for the b...

Succession planning starts with a trusted advisor

Succession planning starts with a trusted advisor

As baby boomers retire, a large gap exists across the business spectrum for finding the next generation of leaders withi...

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