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Connecting with talent for our region

Posted by: Bernie Dagenais on Wednesday, October 10, 2018 at 2:30:00 pm

At a recent gathering under the auspices of Grow PA, a statewide initiative focused on strengthening the generally anemic economy in Pennsylvania, the role of higher education was front and center. University presidents met with business leaders at Montgomery County Community College to discuss ideas that included spurring more research to create innovative commercialization opportunities, making college more affordable and incentivizing more recent college graduates to stay.

While the brainstorming brought about a compelling set of ideas, strategies to develop real-time and predictive data about the needs of employers and communicating those needs to students and educators are among the most needed. One of the highest callings for our state-supported and private schools is to meet the needs of our employers, providing the talent that is an essential ingredient to growth.

The conversation ties into Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s PA Smart workforce initiative, which seeks to incentivize STEM education, industry partnerships and apprenticeships. Grow PA, which is backed by our lobbying partner the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, is expected to make public policy recommendations.

It’s as important, however, that Grow PA is looking for solutions that won’t involve government. One of the key goals is to look beyond the current election cycle to plot a path that can last through several gubernatorial administrations if necessary.

In the four years since The Main Line Chamber of Commerce created its Talent and Education Network, and during two years of study prior to the 2015 launch, we have learned a lot about what employers want and don’t want from their recent college graduates.

It seems clear that there will be more computer science-related jobs than students for some years to come. We recently hosted Drexel College of Computing and Informatics Dean Yi Deng, who is working to expand his program’s ability to meet employer need.

It’s also clear that many companies on the Main Line are seeking a more diverse pool of applicants than they are seeing currently. That’s where we come in.

The Talent and Education Network is developing its capacity to help our employers to meet more diverse applicants, computer science majors and college students in general. The next step on this journey is a Student/Employer Meetup at St. Joseph’s University on Oct. 20. Both students and employers must be pre-registered.

Employers interested in having a table at the event can contact Ms. Powell Davis at from the Chamber team to find out more information. Any interested students can sign up here.

The role of a chamber of commerce as a connector is long established and we are taking it to the next level.

To read the entire October issue of the Main Line Business Monthly please click here


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