Grow and prepare our workforce

May 23, 2023

Growing and diversifying the workforce, linking workers to quality jobs, and ensuring an adequate supply of housing will help businesses find the right employees, creating more opportunities to share in our city’s economic prosperity.

“Hundreds of jobseekers attend a hiring fair at the Ferry Building” by Mark Hogains


San Francisco’s strong economy is rooted in its extremely productive labor force. A large pool of qualified workers is central to staying competitive, attracting new businesses, and helping them to grow. We must work to include San Franciscans at all educational and experience levels in our economy by continuing to invest in industry-specific training and by collaborating with businesses to build strategic programs that connect jobseekers from underemployed communities to promising job opportunities. The City must also ensure an adequate supply of housing for workers and their families to maintain and grow the local workforce.

The City has begun to advance a series of initiatives and will launch additional programs that support this strategy:

  • Implement the Mayor’s Housing for All plan to deliver housing for our workforce.

  • Provide industry-informed training programs that target resources to employers’ shifting needs.

  • Expand outreach to grow the workforce through programs that match new job seekers and those outside the labor force with emerging opportunities.



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Deliver housing for our workforce

San Francisco’s housing shortage hurts workers, families, and our economic recovery. It hurts our ability to recruit businesses who want to locate here but are concerned with where their workers will live.  

  • In February 2023, Mayor Breed announced her Housing for All plan to fundamentally change how San Francisco approves and buildings housing. The plan builds on the recently certified Housing Element, which sets the City's goals and policies to allow for 82,000 new homes to be built over the next eight years.   

  • As a first step to set this plan in motion, Mayor Breed issued an Executive Directive that lays the groundwork for the City to unlock its housing pipeline, accelerate the approval of new housing projects, and create additional capacity for all types of housing across San Francisco. 

  • In March 2023, the Potrero Power Station, a 2,600-unit mixed-use housing project located on the southeastern waterfront, became the first project in San Francisco to opt into an Enhanced Infrastructure Finance District (EIFD). The EIFD is a targeted form of public financing that will allow critical infrastructure at large projects like this one to be built earlier and get housing projects under construction faster, allowing the Power Station project to break ground on its first 105 units of workforce housing in 2023. The new EIFD financing tool could be used as a catalyst for several other large multi-phase development projects that make up the majority of the City’s 52,000 units in the pipeline that are approved but currently stalled due to financing and infrastructure obstacles. 

  • In March 2023 Mayor Breed announced a major overhaul of the permit process for housing projects. The effort would streamline a key project approval known as the “site permit,” which will reduce permitting times for new developments and major renovations by up to 65 percent on some projects. The time savings come from moving intake, administration and approval of the design, environmental review, and zoning entitlements from the Department of Building Inspection (DBI) to the Planning Department. This shift will allow for faster review by multiple City departments, help resolve high-level design issues earlier in the process, and clarify a project’s post-entitlement permitting process. Legislation to enable this reform is currently being developed by City Administrator Carmen Chu, DBI, and the Planning Department to be introduced later this year. 

  • In April 2023, Mayor Breed introduced comprehensive housing streamlining legislation to remove zoning and process barriers in the Planning Code that will make it easier and faster to approve new housing project across the city. This legislation will eliminate unnecessary processes and hearings, ease certain development requirements and geographic restrictions, and expand housing incentive programs for new housing that fits within the City’s existing zoning laws.

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Industry-informed training programs

The labor market often can’t keep up with changes in the job market and new job requirements. In the post-pandemic context, a number of shifts have occurred in the types of jobs available and the skills employees are expected to have.  

  • Through the Employer Support initiative, the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) engages with employers, labor unions, and industry associations to identify employment needs from small and large businesses and inform workforce programming priorities to help guide job seekers, and partner to deliver population/ industry-specific job fairs and hiring events. 

  • The initiative will build upon OEWD’s employer engagement programs such as WorkforceLinkSF to help businesses recruit new workers and provide a resource of in-demand jobs for our diverse community of job seekers.   

  • In April 2023, OEWD hosted a Healthcare Round Table to formally engage with industry employers on our Healthcare sector trainings and gauge these employers’ current workforce needs. 

  • OEWD is currently developing a training program for the hospitality sector in collaboration with industry partners, including the Golden Gate Restaurant Association and the San Francisco Hotel Council to ensure that job training programs in these sectors are meeting current needs in a shifting economic environment. 

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Expanded outreach to grow the workforce

Changes in business models and practices due to the pandemic have caused many workers to have a hard time finding work opportunities or have left the labor force altogether.   

  • The City will expand outreach in 2023 to new job seekers, underemployed and displaced workers, and San Franciscans not currently in the labor force by:  

    • increasing community engagement to connect with residents who have not interacted with the workforce system,  
    • promoting workforce programming like youth and young adult job centers and the WorkforceLinkSF job matching tool, 

    • coordinating with City departments to better serve disadvantaged community members who have experienced barriers to employment, and   

    • promoting workforce training and support available in growing industries with quality job opportunities. 

  • In April 2023, OEWD hosted the annual Hospitality and Small Business Job Fair at the Ferry Building. The Fair featured over 85 employers looking to hire long-term, full-time and part-time positions in the growing hospitality industry that added 13,500 jobs from March 2022 to March 2023. The Fair attracted over 1,000 jobseekers that were able to connect to job opportunities, resources to assist in their job search, and workforce training programs.  There will be multiple job fairs throughout the year to connect communities across the City to jobs and resources.  

  • The Department of Human Resources (DHR) hosted its second annual citywide career resource fair in Civic Center Plaza in April, connecting 40 City departments with over 1,600 diverse job seekers. The career resource fair was an opportunity for the City to advise prospective employees on the public sector hiring process, hire new employees, and deploy new features of the recently launched applicant tracking system which allows City departments to better engage with applicants interested in public service.  

  • In April 2023, the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development held the inaugural Committee on City Workforce Alignment meeting. The Committee will meet quarterly to convene City departments, community, and labor partners to align the workforce programming delivered across San Francisco. 

  • To further expand the City’s outreach efforts to our most marginalized communities, including unemployed and underserved individuals, the Office of Economic and Workforce Development has begun conducting information sessions for fellow City departments on the wide array of existing workforce programs so they can be connected directly with participants in those programs and educate their own grantees and community partners about these important job linkage programs.


See other economic recovery strategies

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