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by Michael Codega, Solutions Consultant
The Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce hosted a one-day conference on October 22nd called Upskill901. The conference was attended by over 100 regional government officials, representatives from higher education including Universities, Community Colleges, Applied Technology Centers, and trade training institutions as well as business community representatives.
The objective of the conference was to review workforce skills gap, learn which skills will be required by employers, and compare to current educational programs. The conference was intended to stimulate conversation and ideas to assist in developing a plan to address the gap.
"The event's goal was to kickstart an initiative to upskill 10,000 for the future workforce by connecting employable individuals with job and skills training programs that can get them into higher-paying positions," said Beverly Robertson, President and CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber.
The keynote address was delivered by Brookings Institution Senior Fellow and Policy Director Mark Muro. Muro delivered insights regarding automation, artificial intelligence, information technology, and how the application of technology will impact the local workforce moving forward.
A key component of the summit was an effort to bring groups who work in the same space together to increase collaboration and information-sharing. Attendees participated in one of five sessions (education, faith-based, opportunity, youth, and re-entry providers) based on their role in the workforce ecosystem and the population(s) served. Each working group began constructing a plan to work collectively to lay the foundation for a comprehensive action plan to identify best practices, challenges to meeting their goals, resources and support needed.
Information technology was identified as a key area of experience which will be required by the regional workforce for gainful employment of employers seeking to fill jobs that have been transformed by automation and Information Technology (IT).
A panel of leaders across industries discussed how their companies are effectively recruiting and maintaining talent in a high employment economy while preparing to meet the demands of the future.
A follow up career fair day was held on October 30th which included regional secondary education instructors, students, and prospective employees. Over 60 regional companies and 2,000 job seekers participated. Workshops were conducted on overcoming barriers to employment and enhancing employability. The event included regional job centers for potential employees in which to enroll.
The Greater Memphis Chamber has developed a Virtual Career Fair portal for local companies to post open positions. Click HERE to access the portal.