June Member Spotlight: Karen Elzey, Director, Skills for America’s Future
Skills for America’s Future
As Director at Skills for America’s Future, Karen Elzey is all too familiar with the need to establish a skilled labor workforce, which was the central theme for the EACC’s Annual Conference. Formed in October 2010, Skills for America’s Future is a policy initiative of the Economic Opportunities Program at The Aspen Institute that focuses on developing high impact partnerships between community colleges and employers. “My goal is to create long-term, sustainable partnerships between community colleges and employers that lead to a more prepared workforce,” said Elzey. “We want to establish a national network of employers to share promising practices and strategies to effectively work with community colleges, and position community colleges as a valuable provider of education and skills.
The EACC Skilled Labor Workforce Conference provided attendees with the opportunity to hear from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland about the current state of the economy as well as a number of employers who face workforce challenges, but have identified solutions such as the Feintool Equipment Corporation, MAG-Americas, Mazak, Milacron LLC, and Toyota Motor Manufacturing. A wide array of companies discussed the impact of skilled labor workforce on transatlantic trade, U.S. manufacturing and the economic vitality of the Tri-State. Companies from both sides of the Atlantic presented case studies on specific methods to realize that vision like filling the pipeline, attracting and retaining European investors, retraining military veterans and improving skills of incumbent workers. Keynote speakers included His Excellency, João Vale de Almeida, Ambassador of the European Union to the United States, John Francy, Vice President – Finance, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Administrative Officer and Treasurer at Milacron, LLC and Joerg Ernst, Executive Vice President at Siemens AG.
Elzey, another keynote speaker, delivered the closing remarks, stressing that the purpose of the conference was to think strategically about the type of commitment each company could make to improve the current workforce deficiencies. The EACC gathered a valuable audience that represents different types and sizes of companies. This gave attendees the opportunity to advance the conversation about the jobs that currently exist, how students and teachers could be exposed to careers in manufacturing, and how new partnerships could foster economic growth in the community. “You don’t have to make a commitment as soon as you leave, but the EACC organized this conference as a way to rally support in their effort to create a skilled and competitive workforce in the area,” said Elzey. “There are great assets in this community, but it is challenging to understand all of the community resources. This conference has the ability to organize companies, non-profits, educational institutions and communities towards a similar goal.”
Skills for America’s Future Background
• In October 2010, President Obama announced the formation of Skills for America’s Future, a non-partisan employer-led initiative
• Skills for America’s Future is a policy initiative of the Economic Opportunities Program at the Aspen Institute.
• There are 295 partnerships comprised of 34 employers and employer associations and 223 community college partners across the country.
• The Aspen Institute attempts to foster value-based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society, and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues.
• The Economic Opportunities Program (EOP) advances workforce training, community college, microenterprise and asset building strategies for lower income Americans.