The Workforce Development Panel began with a call to action. “Employers must lead the change, you must focus on upskilling, and capitalize on technology. Collaborate between companies and with your higher education and K-12 schools,” said Michelle Buczkowski, Senior Talent Manger for PNC as she introduced the esteemed panelists. People are the heart of any business and finding the right people and opening opportunities for them is Buczkowski’s job. “You may think you know Pittsburgh as a steel town, a strong, blue-collar town. That is who we were, not who we are now,” she said.
PNC is leading the way in workforce development and in Pittsburgh, they have partnered with four area schools to create opportunities for students. In this talent acquisition pilot program they have created a curriculum that would prepare students for meaningful employment at PNC. PNC also reached pitched the program to UPS and FedEx who have also joined in the effort. “It’s time to breakdown the silos and think differently,” Buczkowski said.
Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Executive, said the region’s prior focus was on jobs. “The opportunities weren’t here 30 years ago, but now there’s a surplus of jobs and a shortage of people. The biggest needs are workforce development and transportation.”
Representing the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC), President Quintin Bullock discussed the community college’s work to support workforce development. “One in every three residents over 18 have taken a course through CCAC, and 90% of students who graduate from CCAC stay in the region. It is our mission to provide a highly skilled workforce and we begin on the K-12 level, working collaboratively so students can begin earning college credits before they graduate high school,” Bullock said. Bullock was formerly the provost of the Virginia Beach campus of Tidewater Community College (TCC) and saw firsthand the growth of TCC and the tremendous asset the military community was to the region and the workforce.
Laura Saulle, Director of Pittsburgh Works, a Partner4Work initiative, stressed the importance of partnerships. “We have a one stop career center that links job seekers to a really broad network of employers. We also make this available at local library branches if accessibility is an issue.” Pittsburgh is a “Tech-Hire” city which focuses on upskilling and training in various technologies. “We want to ensure we aren’t leaving people behind,” Saulle said.
Another successful initiative is the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education, (PCHE). Executive Director, Karina Chavez discussed their efforts to “cultivate home-grown talent.” PCHE is made of up 10 colleges and universities across the Allegheny County region which identified workforce development as a priority. “In a pilot program we began a hiring initiative from underrepresented communities adjacent to the universities. We embedded community partners to bring in non-degreed talent to be trained and mentored who would be guaranteed jobs in the college or university system,” Chavez said. This Talent Alliance Coalition helps to find the people who may be overlooked and connect them within their own neighborhoods.
Pittsburgh is working hard to pave paths for equitable career development. This panel again emphasized the words so familiar now to the Pittsburgh leaders, collaboration, partnership and progress.
Karina Chavez provided a link to her powerpoint presentation here.