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August 6, 2010

FINDING NEW PATHWAYS TO JOBS

National expert on bridging the skills gap into the knowledge economy to address Board of Higher Education

SPRINGFIELD –– Davis Jenkins, a pioneer in the "career pathways" approach to workforce development, will discuss his research into creating avenues for the economically and educationally disadvantaged into the knowledge economy with the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

Jenkins is senior researcher at the Community College Research Center at Teachers College at Colombia University. He will be the featured speaker at the Board's meeting August 10th at Northeastern Illinois University.

Among the primary goals of the Illinois Public Agenda for College and Career Success is finding ways to increase educational attainment, particularly among low-income, unskilled, and undereducated youth and adult learners.

“The workforce demands of the contemporary economy make it imperative that we engage all of our citizens in developing the skills needed for them and for Illinois to compete successfully in the global marketplace,” Carrie J. Hightman, Chairwoman of the Board, said. “There is a compelling connection between Dr. Jenkins’ research and the Illinois Public Agenda, and we look forward to his presentation to help guide us in a productive direction.”

Jenkins is directing a series of studies, sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to track the success of community college students within and across educational systems and into the labor market.

He is credited as being among the originators of the notion of career pathways, a holistic strategy involving partnerships among community colleges, K-12 schools, employers, and economic development and social service agencies. The pathways are intended to lead to jobs in high-demand occupations.

On the Board’s action agenda is the $2.8 million allocation of grants to 16 consortia under the Grow Your Own Teacher Education Initiative (GYO).

Senate Bill 2487, signed recently by the Governor, transfers responsibility for the program from the Illinois State Board of Education to the IBHE. The goal of the GYO Initiative is to prepare parent and community leaders and “paraeducators” statewide to become effective teachers in hard-to-staff schools and teaching positions in schools with a high proportion of low-income students.

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