Mayor Andy Berke joined six other mayors, along with corporate leaders from their communities, in Saint Paul, Mn., Friday for the National League of Cities, to explore how city officials and business leaders can partner with local afterschool and summer learning programs to address the workforce skills gap and help ensure local children and youth have the skills necessary to enter the 21st Century workforce. Valoria Armstrong, president of Tennessee American Water, accompanied Mayor Berke to represent Chattanooga’s business community in discussing this avenue for workforce development.
“I hear from businesses all the time who want to know where Chattanooga’s future workers will come from, and we want to be able to respond that we have a talented, motivated workforce. By applying best practices from other cities and business leaders, we can empower more Chattanooga youth to pursue the life they want in our community, and ensure employers have a quality workforce,” said Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke.
"At the requests of Chattanoogans, neighbors and employers, the Berke Administration has been investing in youth by helping them develop soft skills so they can succeed. The symposium in Saint Paul is an opportunity for Chattanooga to share progress with other cities and highlight programs like the Chattanooga Ambassadors Program, the Mayor’s Youth Council and Outdoor Chattanooga’s programming in schools," officials said.
Friday’s conference titled, “Mayors and Corporate Leaders Symposium: Afterschool and Summer Learning as a Strategy to Address the Workforce Skills Crisis,” was hosted by NLC’s highest level leaders – NLC President and Mayor of Little Rock, Ar. Mark Stodola; First Vice President and Mayor of Gary, In. Karen Freeman-Wilson; and former-NLC President and Mayor of Saint Paul Christopher Coleman – all of whom have long championed the idea that there are opportunities at every stage of development to help our children build the skills they need to succeed in the workplace, officials said.
“One of my main priorities as a mayor is preparing my city’s workforce for the jobs of tomorrow. At the forefront of my agenda is supporting afterschool and summer programs, which can help young people develop the skills they need to participate in our rapidly changing economy,” said National League of Cities President Mark Stodola, mayor of Little Rock, Ar. “City officials and business leaders must work together to make a serious and sustainable investment in programs that support our children and youth. I am proud to bring together mayors and local business leaders to explore how we can join forces and partner on afterschool and summer learning. It is imperative that we invest as much as possible in our children and youth today, as they will build the economy of tomorrow.”
"At Friday’s symposium, mayors and their corporate partners explored how they can partner with local afterschool and summer learning programs to address the workforce skills gap, which are the skills 21st Century employers need their workforce to have but find prospective employees are lacking. Particular focus was given to the development of necessary social and emotional skills (sometimes referred to as soft, foundational or employability skills) and the impact that large or persistent skills gaps may have on their city’s economy," officials said.
In addition to Mayor Berke, the symposium included Baltimore, Md. Mayor Catherine Pugh; Fort Worth, Tx. Mayor Betsy Price; Gary, In. Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson; Little Rock, Ar. Mayor Mark Stodola; Rochester, N.Y. Mayor Lovely Warren; and Saint Paul, Mn. Mayor Christopher Coleman.
Corporate partners at the symposium included Calvin Butler, Jr., CEO Baltimore Gas and Electric; Valoria Armstrong, president of Tennessee American Water in Chattanooga; Barbara M. Williams, partner at Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson LLP in Fort Worth; Vance Kenney, managing partner at 504 Redevelopment, LLC in Gary; Marla Johnson, CEO Aristotle Inc. and Long Range Planning Chair at the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce; Tyrone Reaves, president of Truform Manufacturing/YAMTEP, Inc. in Rochester; and Chris Hilger, CEO, and Kristi Fox, Vice President of Talent Solutions and Chief Diversity Officer at Securian Financial Group in Saint Paul.
National League of Cities Corporate Partners at the symposium included Tammy Hartman, vice president of Corporate Affairs at Clear Channel Outdoor; Leanne Holmberg, regional human resources director, and Keith Morris, senior director of Community Relations at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.; and Richard Leadbetter, global manager for local Government Industry Solution at Esri.
The Mayors and Corporate Leaders Symposium: Afterschool and Summer Learning as a Strategy to Address the Workforce Skills Crisis was made possible with the support of The Wallace Foundation.
For more information on NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (YEF Institute) Afterschool and Summer Learning, click here.