Small group discussion at the Reimagining Career Readiness Summit / photo: Ben Filio

Cross-sector partnerships are shaping the future of work in Pittsburgh

On Wednesday, eight members of the Remake Learning Network brought together over 150 leaders and stakeholders in education, workforce development, and business to analyze the current state of workforce development, share promising practices, and build the partnerships required to prepare students for a changing world.

Person speaking at a conference

The Pittsburgh Region needs a way to prepare youth for the future of work so that we have a vibrant and diverse economy for years to come. To begin to address this challenge, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, Allegheny Intermediate Unit, A. W. Beattie Career Center, Consortium For Public Education, Partner4Work, The Pittsburgh Promise, Pittsburgh Public Schools, and Schools That Can gathered at the Energy Innovation Center in Pittsburgh’s Hill District for the Reimagining Career Readiness Showcase.

Getting Smart’s Tom Vander Ark started us out with a keynote about preparing students for a changing world.

@tvanderark & preparing for changing world: “Cities will be creative laboratories of democracy.” #PGHCareerReady @remakelearning

— Ken Lockette, Ph.D. (@klockette) November 15, 2017

“How will we SHARE the extraordinary benefits that will inevitably be produced?” Thinking about #equity as #AI threatens to further stratify our economy with @tvanderark @Getting_Smart at #PGHCareerReady #RemakeLearning

— Sunanna T Chand (@SunannaC) November 15, 2017

Tom spoke about the potential effects of artificial intelligence on our economy and the future of work. Key implications about career readiness for students today includes enabling them to:

  • navigate projects and work in teams, as the majority will be freelancers by 2027,
  • contribute to the economy through human judgement, creativity, empathy, social interaction, and innovative mindset,
  • work computationally and across disciplines, and
  • upskill continuously as the economy and required skills will change at a more rapid rate than ever.

We then heard from five local leaders about pressing topics related to student readiness in our region. Laura Fisher, Senior Vice President of Workforce & Special Projects at the Allegheny Conference on Community Development addressed the need for business engagement in the workforce development process. Susie Puskar, Director of Youth Innovation at Partner4Work, spoke about capitalizing on out-of-school time when creating strategies for building career pathways for young people.

an array of 5 different people talking at the summit.

“We need to be more agile and nimble. We need to change. We need to be able to reinvent our systems,” said Laura Fisher. #EICShowcase #PGHcareerready

— Lian Bunny (@PBT_Lian) November 15, 2017

Susie Puskar of @PghWorkforce – “The collaboration, communication, creative thinking and critical thinking. How do we take those things, that we know businesses are going to continue to look for and.. make them relevant and engaging for the students?” #PGHCareerReady #EICShowcase

— Lian Bunny (@PBT_Lian) November 15, 2017

We also heard from Briana Mihok, Senior Policy Strategist at the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics, about policy advocacy and action; Linda Hippert, Executive Director of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, about improving school system practices; and Jason Swanson, Director of Strategic Foresight at the KnowledgeWorks Foundation, about learning for the future of work.

These opening talks sparked serious conversations as the leaders and stakeholders in attendance broke into small groups. To improve engagement with the business community, the audience suggested common sources for regular and sustained business-educator meetings. Regarding policy and advocacy there is a need for an organized regional education policy agenda, equity in K-12 finding, and flexibility in accountability measures. Ideas to improve school system practices included changing how school is currently structured, increased communication about the changes needed with community stakeholders and families, and increased cross-sector partnerships. One group focused on capitalizing on out-of-school time, discussed increasing digital skill access in places such as libraries and addressing imbalance between programmatic deserts and densely resourced communities. Finally, a deeper discussion on learning for the future of work featured the need to further determine the skill and knowledge mosaic needed, creating lifelong learning skills, and working with cross-sector partners for support.

A woman speaking to a group of people at the summit.

#PGHCareerReady what we need to do collectively in these areas @remakelearning @Getting_Smart

— Anne sekula (@SekulaAnne) November 15, 2017

#PGHCareerReady what does business engagement need for future @remakelearning @AlleghenyConf

— Anne sekula (@SekulaAnne) November 15, 2017

With ambitious goals and a vision for future collaborations in mind, we then heard from 24 local organizations working to prepare young people in the region for future careers. In this round-robin discussion, local schools, CTE programs, businesses, and nonprofit initiatives shared what they’ve learned through apprenticeship programs, summer youth employment, cyber security training, project-based learning curricula, micro-credentialing with digital badges, social entrepreneurship programs, personal opportunity plans, and more. Participants were encouraged to leave the day with a new partner or idea that they were to engage in the next few months.

Audience members shared they would like to bring employers into the conversation and communicate with their legislators. They hope to continue learning from other schools and start incorporating the future thinking now! Finally, the audience needs more information regarding addressing social emotional skills, artificial intelligence literacy, and how to connect with the business community.

Beattie breaks out the “Thriller Robot” and draws a crowd #PGHCareerReady

— Josh Cable (@MrCabletweets) November 15, 2017

CTE staff and CTE Entertainment Technology students participate in “Reimagining Career Readiness: A Regional Showcase” presented by Remake Learning. CTE students filmed part of the event. @pps_cte @PPSnews #whyCTErocks #PghCareerReady

— CTE Division – PPS (@pps_cte) November 15, 2017

Jayla and Hayden share their capstone experiences #PGHCareerReady

— HFA Internship (@HFA_Intern) November 15, 2017

This showcase demonstrated the pathways that educators and industry are forging between school and career, and the amazing work happening in this region to make learning engaging, relevant, and equitable as we prepare young people for life and career. It also forged new connections and made it clear that there is plenty of work to do as we collaborate to prepare the Pittsburgh region for the future of work.

I enjoyed hearing other area schools tell their stories today. Educators need to communicate and collaborate to turn “pockets of innovation” into blankets that cover all kids. #PGHCareerReady

— Josh Cable (@MrCabletweets) November 15, 2017

photos: Ben Filio Photography