Santa Barbara’s Workforce of the Future

The Link Between College and Workplace Success

Santa Barbara’s Workforce of the Future

By Leslie Dinaberg | June 30, 2022

COLLEGE SUCCESS:  Students at UCSB, Westmont, and other Santa Barbara colleges are embracing impactful majors. | Credit: Matt Perko

Translating academic pursuits into workplace success is not always a straight path, but Santa Barbara’s college students seem to be on the right track.

Data Literacy is Key

According to research from MIT Sloan School of Management titled Five Traits of the Workforce of the Future, “Data-driven companies enjoy increased revenue, improved customer service, best-in-class operating efficiencies, and improved profitability.” 

While Biology, Economics, and Computer Science remain the top majors for fall 2022 applicants of all types (first year/transfer students) at UC Santa Barbara, according to spokesperson Kiki Reyes, the field of Statistics and Data Science is on the upswing.

While noting that increases can be large in small programs whose numbers fluctuate, the university provided the following stats: The top three majors for Fall 2022 applicants (first year/transfer students combined) that have seen an increase over the past 10 years: Statistics and Data Science (1,199 percent increase), Physical Geography (1,100 percent increase), and History of Public Policy and Law (778 percent increase). 

Healthcare Growth Continues 

“Employment in healthcare occupations is projected to grow 16 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 2.6 million new jobs. Healthcare occupations are projected to add more jobs than any of the other occupational groups,” according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Note: This category includes much more than just doctors and nurses. Athletic trainers, dieticians, medical transcriptionists, veterinarians, pharmacists, and other occupations all fall under the healthcare umbrella. 

Westmont College graduates are on track to be part of this trend. According to spokesperson Scott Craig, “for the class of 2020, more than 13 percent of first-year students focused their studies on biology, chemistry, and pre-health fields, including pre-med, pre-dental, pre-vet, and pre-nursing.” 

Credit: Matt Perko

Advances in Social and Environmental Equity

Last month, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a $108.6 million program as part of a $250 million investment to address longstanding equity challenges in higher education and workforce participation, stating, “This essential collaboration will help bridge equity gaps and provide more resources to help our students achieve their career goals right in their own communities.” 

The study of Poverty, Inequity and Social Justice has also made its way into UC Santa Barbara’s offerings as a minor, where students explore the subject in both a historical and global context. In addition, at the graduate school level, a new master’s program in environmental data science recently wrapped up its first year, with an aim of preparing scientists for the new wave of data-driven research and environmental problem solving.

Read all of Leslie Dinaberg’s stories in our special issue, “The Way We Work,” here.


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