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More than 100 thoughtleaders from across the Philadelphia region gathered last month for a workforce forum at Community College of Philadelphia. The forum was sponsored by Roadmap for Growth, a multiyear initiative of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. The panel members, comprised of some of the city’s most recognized educators and business executives, shared their agendas to promote economic growth and job creation — actionable ideas that Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration can work on to bring its vision of growth into fruition.

Community College of Philadelphia’s president, Donald Guy Generals, proposed an idea that he has woven into the fabric of the College’s administration. “Facilitating relationships between the business community and the educational sector are key. For the College to maintain its rightful place as a premier institution of higher education, it must strengthen its traditional focus while embracing an expanded mission put forth by new realities. An important part of the mission is taking a primary role in workforce development, readiness and economic innovation.”

The idea was met with a hearty round of applause by community stakeholders in attendance — the politicians, educators, business and nonprofit leaders, and activists — all with a shared mission to work together to connect young people to careers. Such partnerships not only help align the needs of industries seeking skilled and trained employees, but they strengthen the pipeline of graduates to satisfy workforce demands.

In addition to Dr. Generals, panel members included Dr. William T. Hite, superintendent, School District of Philadelphia; Nicole Anderson, president, AT&T Foundation, and associate vice president of social innovation, AT&T; and Robert M. Poliseno, regional executive officer, Mid-Atlantic Region, Chubb, a global property and casualty insurer. Daniel K. Fitzpatrick, president and CEO, Citizens Bank of PA/NJ/DE/NY, also delivered remarks.

During the dialogue, panelists addressed changes in the workforce landscape. Poliseno equated the approaching retirement of baby boomers in the insurance industry to a “silver tsunami;” noting that the city’s future workforce skews younger, very often requires more training and education, and is more racially and culturally diverse.

Otis Hackney, Philadelphia’s chief education officer, pointed out that in a city with one of the highest poverty rates, the challenge is to identify how to balance the needs of the workforce while addressing issues such as high school completion rates that fall below the national average, academic proficiency and family stability. Additionally, the city must determine a process in which businesses and community colleges can work together to expand job opportunities for young people.

One of those businesses, Starbucks, has already created such pathways through the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative, a coalition of leading U.S.-based employers; it aims to provide youth who face systemic barriers to jobs and education with internships, along with part-time and full-time jobs. Recently, Starbucks partnered with Community College of Philadelphia for a job fair that drew more than 200 invited job seekers. Starbucks interviewed applicants for 150 openings on the spot.

Dr. Generals has frequently engaged in conversations with community and business leaders about ways the College can best connect with businesses to produce an educated and skilled workforce. His overriding conclusion? “We need to be more comprehensive and more organic in everything we do,” he said.

Some of the ideas highlighted included:

  • Supporting a more holistic approach to education through a community schools model
  • Offering more high school internships so students can learn what having a job entails
  • Facilitating a more substantial dialogue between business executives and higher education leaders to better serve evolving workforce needs
  • Making Philadelphia a destination for educators and teachers potentially through incentive programs
  • Exposing students to potential careers — especially insurance, finance and accounting — at an early age
  • Using technology to scale the impact of education at a reduced cost

The gap between workforce development and placement must be closed, Dr. Generals said. “We need to have real-time, right-now job opportunities for our students,” he said. “We can train them and get them ready, but we need to know jobs are there today to have a more effective system of workforce innovation.”

Contact: Alexis Abate 215-780-1390 aabate@salus.edu
Contact: Linda Wallace 215-751-8082 liswallace@ccp.edu


PHILADELPHIA, PA, May 16 --- With potentially debilitating eye diseases increasing throughout the United States, the need for eye care professionals is on the rise. Demand for ophthalmic technicians alone is expected to increase 29% over the next six years. Recognizing those needs, Community College of Philadelphia and Salus University have partnered to bring an innovative Ophthalmic Technician Proficiency Certificate Program to Philadelphia.

Ophthalmic technicians work under the supervision of an optometrist or ophthalmologist, and perform a variety of pretesting and diagnostic procedures, which include assessing visual acuity, color vision, depth perception and pupil testing. Ophthalmic technicians also instruct patients on various aspects of eye care, such as the use of contact lenses and corrective glasses. The median annual Ophthalmic Technician salary in Philadelphia is $44,984, as of April 26, 2016, with salaries usually ranging between $39,288 and $51,385, according to salary.com.

“We are thrilled to partner with Community College of Philadelphia on this collaborative Ophthalmic Technician Proficiency Certificate Program, offering students comprehensive education and training that will ensure their success as healthcare professionals,” Salus University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Janice Scharre shared. “As the face of American healthcare continues to transition, inventive programs like this reinforce our commitment to provide quality interdisciplinary education and patient care.”

The program is set to launch in fall 2016. The first cohort will be comprised of up to 16 students accepted into the two-semester, full-time program that includes two clinical internships.

“This program puts the college in a unique position to advance optometry workforce initiatives, and foster access to more health-related fields in traditionally underserved communities,” Community College of Philadelphia President Donald Guy Generals said.

Upon graduation, ophthalmic technicians may work in eye care practices, health care clinics, optical dispensaries, optical laboratories and pharmaceutical companies, among other health facilities.

“This is a marvelous employment opportunity for our students, and a wonderful example of two educational institutions coming together that merges the expertise of both institutions,” said Dr. Mary Anne Celenza, Dean of Math, Science and Health Careers at Community College of Philadelphia.

The Ophthalmic Technician Program will operate as a dual location program at Community College of Philadelphia’s Northwest Regional Center, located at 1300 W. Godfrey Avenue, and The Eye Institute of Salus University, located next door.

“This collaboration embraces Salus University’s and Community College of Philadelphia’s joint commitment to serving a diverse student population while also developing a curriculum for a rewarding career that has great potential opportunities,” said Dr. Michael H. Mittelman, President of Salus University. “Not only will both institutions benefit from this program, but it benefits the City of Philadelphia since we can now offer a local ophthalmic technician program to residents.”

A signing of a memorandum of agreement between both institutions will be held Wednesday, June 15th from 1-2PM with an information session about the new program immediately following at The Eye Institute. More information about the program can be found here.



About Community College of Philadelphia

Community College of Philadelphia is the largest public institution of higher education in Philadelphia and the sixth largest in Pennsylvania. The College enrolls approximately 34,000 students annually and offers day, evening, and weekend classes, as well as classes online. Visit the College at www.ccp.edu. Follow us on Twitter. Like us on Facebook.


About Salus University

Salus University, founded as the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in 1919, today is a diversified, globally recognized professional academic center of learning that offers a wide range of graduate degree programs in the professions of Optometry, Audiology, Physician Assistant, Public Health, Education and Rehabilitation for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Biomedicine, Occupational Therapy and Speech-Language Pathology. Salus operates four clinical facilities in the Philadelphia area that provide highly specialized vision, hearing and balance, and speech-language pathology services. The University has more than 1,100 students, including PhD candidates, and more than 12,500 alumni worldwide. For more information, please visit www.salus.edu.

Contact: Linda Wallace, 215-751-8082, liswallace@ccp.edu
Annette John-Hall, 215-751-8021, anhall@ccp.edu


PHILADELPHIA, PA, May 17 - Understanding the critical need to extend opportunity to Philadelphia youth who are disconnected from the workforce, Starbucks and Community College of Philadelphia have partnered to host a job fair, in hopes of attracting potential employees for Starbucks’ Philadelphia-area stores.

The recruiting event will be held Wednesday, June 1st from noon to 3:30 PM in The Great Hall of the Winnet Student Life Building on the College’s main campus, located on 17th Street between Spring Garden and Callowhill streets.

“Opportunity youth stand to gain the most when we work together with the shared purpose of offering them a chance for a brighter future,” said Dr. David E. Thomas, dean of the College’s Division of Access and Community Engagement. “We hope this event marks the beginning of a long-standing partnership between the College and Starbucks."

Paul Sykes, Starbucks District Manager, said his company’s mission aligns with that of the College. “Starbucks chose to partner with Community College of Philadelphia because of its unwavering commitment in helping young people realize their greatest potential,” he said. “We’d like to continue our partnership in helping youth across all spectrums realize their fullest potential and possible careers with Starbucks.”

Through the job fair, Starbucks seeks to harness the creativity and productivity of young people who are disconnected from the workforce. In Philadelphia, approximately 25 percent of youth between the ages of 18 and 24 are either out of school or out of work, according to a recent study by Drexel University’s Center for Labor Markets and Policy. Nationally, only 17.7 percent of the same age group were disconnected.

Institutions and organizations such as the College, School District of Philadelphia, and Starbucks describe this population as “Opportunity Youth,” and have joined a growing national movement around addressing their educational and employment needs. Through the 100,000 Opportunities initiative - a coalition of the largest employer-led businesses in the nation - Starbucks has pledged to provide apprenticeships, internships, and part-time and full-time jobs to 100,000 young people by 2018.

Starbucks recruiters will be on hand to welcome applicants and conduct interviews for qualified candidates. The company seeks hourly workers for barista and shift supervisor positions. The job fair is open to all Philadelphia residents, with a special emphasis on the opportunity youth serviced through programs housed under the School District of Philadelphia’s Opportunity Network.



Community College of Philadelphia is the largest public institution of higher education in Philadelphia and the sixth largest in Pennsylvania. The College enrolls approximately 34,000 students annually and offers day, evening, and weekend classes, as well as classes online. Visit the College at www.ccp.edu. Follow us on Twitter. Like us on Facebook.

Advanced Manufacturing Information Request Form

Start on Your Path to a Career in Advanced Manufacturing

Advanced Manufacturing invents and creates the products that we use daily. American companies are reinvesting in manufacturing jobs, resulting in 60,000 jobs added back into the U.S. economy in 2014 with more jobs projected to return in the future. Despite this industry growth, The National Association of Manufacturers reports that a significant business challenge is finding and retaining qualified workers.

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For some job seekers, a one-page resume won’t do the trick. For those who might have a harder time connecting with potential employers because of, say, a nontraditional education path or time spent in prison, a digital cloud-based tool called ePortfolio paints a fuller picture.

Developed by Digital On-Ramps, a Philadelphia-based coalition formed to improve workforce services in the city, ePortfolio lets students and hard-to-serve job seekers provide hiring managers with a holistic overview of their accomplishments and skill sets. (Think LinkedIn.) Using a computer or smartphone, users can upload copies of training certifications, letters of recommendation and even examples of important projects they’ve completed during training programs.

“We recognize that as a network of [career service providers] we weren’t working the best at serving the whole person. There was no way to track our clients’ progress as they journeyed throughout different agencies,” says Joanne Ferroni, director of university and community partnerships at Drexel University. The college is the operating home of Digital On-Ramps, but many partners are involved, including the city of Philadelphia, the library and the Community College of Philadelphia.

Deesha Dyer’s extraordinary journey took her from Community College of Philadelphia to the career of her dreams in the White House.

Last week, Dyer made a triumphant return to Philadelphia, where she delivered the College’s commencement address as special assistant to the president and social secretary of the White House. All of this, from a young woman who at one time thought she could get by without a degree and dropped out of college.

Ophthalmic Technician Program

To learn more about exciting career opportunities as an ophthalmic technician, plan to attend our upcoming information session: 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 at 2 p.m.
The Eye Institute of Salus University
1200 W. Godfrey Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19141

Ophthalmic Technician Program Agreement Signing Ceremony

Join Community College of Philadelphia and Salus University at our Ophthalmic Technician Program Agreement Signing Ceremony.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 at 1 p.m.
The Eye Institute of Salus University
1200 W. Godfrey Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19141

Luis Torrado - Community College of Philadelphia

Community College of Philadelphia has served as the springboard for every professional leap Luis Torrado of Northeast Philly has made over the past 30 years.

Community College of Philadelphia enabled Torrado, a 1987 graduate, to land his first professional job drafting at one of the region’s largest electrical companies. Fast forward 27 years. Torrado, now owner of Philadelphia-based Torrado Construction, credits the College, specifically its Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, for equipping him and other graduates with the tangible and intangible tools needed to grow. And grow he has.

Torrado’s Port Richmond-based general construction firm saw revenues skyrocket from $4 million in 2012 to a $13.7 million in fiscal 2015, an increase of over 200 percent over three years, and is projected to add 50 more employees over the next five years.

That’s phenomenal growth, by any standard.

“The program gave me the confidence I needed to move forward,” said Torrado, a 2014 graduate of the Goldman Sachs program for up-and coming entrepreneurs. “I learned I was much smarter than I thought I was. I became a leader.”

Since it came to the region, 10,000 Small Businesses-Greater Philadelphia has graduated 251 area business owners, putting them on a path to sustained growth. A new study recently released by Babson College found that small business owners who complete the program in this region report creating new jobs just six months after graduating, and 61 percent report increase in revenues.

The program provides entrepreneurs with best practices and strategies to help create jobs , plan for future growth , and, in Torrado’s case, gain more confidence.

Not that Torrado was ever a shrinking violet. Even back when he was a student, he never shrunk away from achievement.

Nobody in Torrado’s close-knit family had any ties in construction. Torrado had no reputation, no references, no proven track record, which are all must-haves for success in a business that relies on referrals. But that never stopped him. He possessed a relentless work ethic, instilled by his parents, as well as a belief in himself, even in the early days when he ran his business out of his parents’ home with only two employees in the field.

“I always had a feeling I would do something,” he said.

As a college student, he also took advantage of every opportunity. In 1986, when Community College of Philadelphia made an internship available at Forest Electric Corp., one of the premiere electrical companies in Philadelphia, Torrado jumped on it.

He wound up working for Forest Electric five years and learned all operational aspects of the sprawling business. By 1996, Torrado was ready to incorporate his own firm.

Business grew slowly at first. Torrado Construction initially renovated residential properties, then graduated to commercial renovations, ink removal and painting services. The firm was getting the business, but had no cohesive blueprint for growth .

By the time he enrolled in the 10,000 Small Businesses program, “I was at a place where I was driving blind,” he says. “I was just bidding work without really focusing on where we were and where we wanted to be.”

Since completing the program, Torrado has learned, with the assistance from Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, how to put a line of financing in place, increased his knowledge of forecasts and budgets and has put more strident deadlines in place for completion of projects.

The College and the contractor have grown older and stronger together. “It felt good to contribute to a college I attended,” Torrado said.

Not to mention a College that has reinvented itself to meet the needs of successful graduates.

How do you balance providing a solid liberal arts education while playing a pivotal role in workforce development? That’s a key question for Community College of Philadelphia, which saw its 50th graduating class receive their diplomas this spring. While this year’s tally of graduates won’t be finalized until October, last year’s graduates numbered 2,103—the most in the college’s history.

The College first welcomed students in 1965 in a former Center City department store before acquiring a permanent home at the former Philadelphia Mint at 17th and Spring Garden. Each year, the 34,000-student college enrolls the most incoming freshmen in the city. Nearly 28,000 are enrolled in credit classes, and nearly 15,000 are full-time equivalent students.

As CCP looks to the future, changes are afoot. The college has a nationally recognized Reentry Support Project that has helped over 500 students with criminal records meet academic goals. It provides a growing number of study abroad opportunities, and classroom designs are currently being overhauled in a push to make the college’s facilities world class. To attract new foreign students, CCP hopes to build student housing and retail space on a parking lot they own at 15th and Hamilton Streets. It would be the college’s first residence for students.

In April 2015, the college began offering free tuition to select freshmen. The program — which the college estimated 440 students qualifying for the first year — helps those who are highly motivated to bridge the gap between what grants cover and what students pay out of pocket. (At CCP, tuition and fees run about $5,550 a year. Students usually owe an additional $500 after financial aid.) The offer comes with several restrictions: testing at the college level, maintaining a 2.5 GPA, participating in extracurricular activities, and enrolling full-time. Nationwide, however, 60% of community college students attend part-time. Clearly these requirements are ones not every student can meet—especially those at the most risk.

The CCP student body is 62% female and has a median age of 25, so childcare is an issue for many. So is college readiness in a city plagued by dysfunctional high schools. I’ve taught at CCP since 1991, and I’ve seen how young people, like my student Rachel, can have their eyes opened wide through a college trip to Japan. More often, however, I hear how a student misses a critical exam because she couldn’t afford bus fare or because her babysitter didn’t show.  

Open-enrollment institutions face perpetual dilemmas: Do they focus on remediation to fix the skill gap between high school and college? Do they focus resources on improving graduation and transfer rates? Or do they funnel students into training programs to land jobs as quickly as possible? 

This past year, CCP created a new position: Vice President for Workforce and Economic Innovation. It’s hired more advisers and is increasing its workforce training. Certainly these efforts are vital to the city's economic development and to students’ personal success. Yet professors like me worry that the open door may be narrowing; we also hope that the teaching of lifelong critical thinking skills won’t get overlooked in the push to create trained workers.

At an April 2016 visit to CCP’s campus, Vice President Joe Biden called community colleges “America’s best-kept secret.” And it’s true: 7.7 million students attend over 1,100 community colleges across the country—that’s 42% of all undergraduates. Biden was in Philly to stoke interest in the America’s Promise Program. It’s a combined partnership between the Department of Labor, potential employers, and community colleges. The program would channel $100 million toward tuition-free education for unemployed and low-income workers looking to enter highly-skilled fields. The program is not without its critics, though. America’s Promise is funded by awarding visas to skilled foreign nationals, and there’s a fear that these workers might take potential jobs away from the very students the program aims to help, despite a stipulation that qualified Americans will get first dibs.

From nurses to dental hygienists, from IT workers to English graduates, the people I encounter tell me time and again how the start they received at CCP was more personalized and often more rigorous than classes they took elsewhere. The college’s impact on the city is indelible. Yet a recent study by the Pew Foundation stated that graduation rates could be even better. As Community College of Philadelphia looks ahead to maximize outcomes, it will need help overcoming such obstacles as a lack of funding, a city with one of the highest poverty rates in the country, and a struggling public school system. CCP is making strides, but it can’t do it alone. America’s Promise needs to begin even earlier.