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Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia Leads Discussion Aimed at Improving Workforce Development

Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Cumberland County College President Dr. Yves Salomon-Fernandez recently hosted Noelle St.Clair and Keith Wardrip, representing the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, who helped facilitate a dynamic discussion about the value of investing in workforce education and development.

Members of Cumberland’s college community were joined by area business and industry leaders. The attendees included Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner, Aaron Fichtner, representatives from the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, Cumberland County Center for Workforce and Economic Development, Cumberland County Improvement Authority, Pascale Sykes Foundation, and various members of the local business community.

As part of the “Investing in America’s Workforce” initiative, the Federal Reserve System promotes economic growth and financial stability for low- and moderate-income communities and individuals by exploring the regional aspects of improving workforce outcomes and investments. Participants offered suggestions for identifying opportunities for investment in workforce development, and removing barriers to make workforce development more investable in the region.

This was the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s second of a three-part series of listening sessions taking place throughout the region to identify new approaches, opportunities and challenges related to community-specific workforce development. This session with local stakeholders is part of a national effort to conduct and share research, and identify emerging issues.

During the session at Cumberland County College, focus was placed on middle skills and opportunity occupations. Middle skills jobs are those requiring less than a bachelor’s degree but more than a high school diploma. Opportunity occupations may require a full bachelor’s degree. It was noted that young job seekers face major challenges in finding employment following high school and college graduation, while employers face major challenges in finding qualified employees.

“Cumberland County College is committed to bridging the gap between the training and education the people in the county need and the skills and competencies employers require in an increasingly technological world,” said Cumberland County College President Dr. Yves Salomon-Fernandez. “Even in manufacturing, the equipment is becoming more high tech, so the worker needs a higher level of skill.”

“Cumberland County has exciting work under way, and identifying new approaches and opportunities will provide greater opportunities for the county,” said Dr. Terrence Hardee, Cumberland County College’s Director of Workforce, Community and Technical Education.