Cultivating Talent: Unleashing the Workforce of Tomorrow
By Clarence Anthony, Jr.
In the pursuit of inclusive innovation and talent development, the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation (PIN) recently held a remarkable event focusing on the critical role of workforce development and collaboration between the public and the private sectors. Collaborating with The University Financing Foundation (TUFF), the Workforce Development Roundtable gathered professionals, industry leaders, and public officials to discuss and explore innovative solutions for bridging the gap between workforce needs and technological progress.
The roundtable included speakers Kevin Byrne, President & CEO of the University Financing Foundation, and Rep. Marvin Lim, District 98 in the Georgia State House, who shared insights about innovation ecosystems and workforce development.
“Innovation is different from invention, involving a gradual and recombinant process that often relies on workforce development”, said Kevin Byrne, President and CEO of TUFF.
Rep. Marvin Lim highlighted the need to consider the impact of technology on communities, emphasizing that simply putting technology into the world does not guarantee positive outcomes. Lim emphasized the importance of recognizing the diverse innovation abilities of the workforce and the significance of user experience.
The roundtable additionally included a panel that featured Ron Alston from Truist, Justin Haight from the Metro Chamber, and Jessica Lavendar from the Fulton County Government.
“Certain industries are being hit by lack of skills harder than others. College grads can’t find a place that matches their skills/wage needs. Education solely doesn’t prepare people for the workplace. Public-private collaboration with the university can help bridge that gap. Strong collaboration is key; each group brings their own place. Partnerships fail if they’re not well-equipped”, said Justin Haight, Director of Talent Partnerships, Metro Atlanta Chamber
There is a distinct need for the development of the next generation of innovators who will be able to deftly navigate the public and private sectors, which will be useful as they make career changes, and to also advance public-private partnerships. Moreover, we know that there is a distinct need to cultivate talent and skills of recent college graduates who often experience barriers to finding meaningful employment in key industries in the state. PIN is uniquely positioned to address these gaps through the PIN Fellowship. During the roundtable, new fellows were introduced and welcomed as they start their fellowship experience.
The second cohort of Fellows, the Athena Class – Rebecca Bryant, Rasheda Kelley, Kennedy Kishimbua, Taelor Malcolm, and Savione Wright – have matched with employers in AI manufacturing, CleanTech, and IT & cybersecurity. Their fellowship experience began in June 2023 and will end in May 2024. During this time, they will engage in two 6-month rotations in the public and private sector each. The fellows will work with the following employers:
- Rebecca Bryant – Cox Enterprises and the Fulton County Goverment
- Rasheda Kelley – Microsoft
- Kennedy Kishimbua – Socially Aware Mobility Lab and Freudenberk NOK
- Taelor Malcolm – NexTraq and the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute
- Savione Wright – Cox Enterprises
The Fellowship has provided a high value and impact to the workforce development and innovation ecosystem in its first 7 months of operation, impacting more than 240 people in the metro-Atlanta area and statewide. Notably, the program places a strong emphasis on inclusivity, with 60% of fellows being women, 90% identifying as racial minorities, and 60% being the first in their family to attend college. This commitment to diversity empowers fellows to contribute to workforce development and also serve as mentors to K-12 students, college students and young professionals, creating a virtuous cycle of knowledge sharing and collaboration.
Potential fellows, and potential employers are welcomed to share their interest in partnering with PIN on this unique and impactful initiative, with the goal of creating lasting impact on early career professionals, communities, and our state. The next cycle of applicants for PIN fellows will open on August 1st. Recruitment for fellowship employers in continuous.