NFIB California Podcast: A New Dynamic for Education and the Workforce

Date: September 28, 2023

Kevin Dobson of the Capital College & Career Academy, and Ken Wenham, president of Roebbelen Contracting, discuss the changes under way.

Only around 30% of California’s high school freshmen will go on to get a college degree, so how is the system serving the other 70%?

Not well. So, Kevin Dobson decided to do something about it by establishing a free public charter school to “address the misalignment between K-12 and postsecondary education that has left far too many young people unprepared for life after high school. A model that allows student-learning to extend far beyond the walls of the traditional classroom by focusing heavily on authentic, real-world learning opportunities.”

Ken Wenham loved Dobson’s idea and brought his experience as president of the most sought-after construction-contracting company in the state to the cause.

“Finding qualified workers is the topic of every conversation among my industry peers,” says Wenham. “In fact, you hear people say, hey, I would love to grow more; I have the capital; I have the market-share.”

Dobson has dedicated his life to education, from classroom teacher to high school principal. He helped develop an innovative school-wide system of support and who led the efforts to build a dual enrollment program between Natomas Charter and American River College, which led to a 200% increase in applicants.

But it’s his establishment of the Capital College & Career Academy that most impressed Wenham, who, after serving in the United States Marine Corps., began his life in construction as the lowest paid laborer and is now president of the Roebbelen Contracting. Under his leadership Roebbelen consistently achieves an annual project portfolio valued at $400 million. “I didn’t choose construction, it chose me,” he says. “I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. I no longer build projects, I build people.”

Both men sat down with NFIB California State Director John Kabateck to talk not only about what the future of education could look like but also about the dynamic of the American workforce that needs to change. Click the arrow below to listen to the interview and click here to listen to past NFIB California Podcasts.

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