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Itís (still) about the people

Posted by: Bernie Dagenais on Wednesday, September 18, 2019 at 2:00:00 pm

A CEO told me eight years ago that when he looked out at the workforce of his company, numbering more than 500 employees, he was struck by how many were approaching retirement. He was worried about what his company was doing to prepare for a day when so many managers would retire. Because his observation is far from isolated, that conversation helped inspire what is now called the Talent and Education Network.  

Whether it’s due to the ongoing retirement of the baby boomer generation or accommodating business growth, recruiting new employees and training existing team members to take on expanding responsibilities is a major area of concern for companies nationwide. 

As a result, ware witnessing a major shift as companies that once only hired individuals with at least five years of experience are finding ways to create a strong entry level. 

It’s at that entry level that the Chamber’s Talent and Education Network, an employer collaborative, operates. As we have continued to ask company executives about their needs, two areas have come up repeatedly. Diverse candidates don’t just knock on the door looking for jobs at many companies – that may be particularly true in the suburbs – despite the desire for companies to be more reflective of the clients they serve. 

Secondly, individuals with the right technology skills, computer science majors in particular, represent another area of need. Looking at students coming through college programs, based on a study conducted for the Chamber by Accenture, it’s clear that our region just isn’t producing enough of that talent.  

The Chamber is strengthening channels of talent that include first-generation college students who tend to broadly represent different races and income sectors. And to be clear, our search for diversity does not exclude white people. It’s about expanding the pool and building relationships with groups that may not have been approached. Using an analogy that’s out there these days, not only are our region’s students invited to the dance, but we are doing all we can to make sure they are asked to dance in this scenario. 

Companies seeking the talent to carry them into the future are stronger for the interaction. 

As a next step, the Talent and Education Network is planning student/employer meetups this fall at WHYY studios in Center City, St. Joseph’s University and Cabrini University. At each event, students receive professional development opportunity and meet with employers who will soon hire interns for next summer. Internships often lead to full-time jobs. 

Our companies need the students of our region to thrive. The Talent and Education Network is here to help. Find out more at 

Click here to read the September issue of the newsletter.


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