The Carlow Hub for Workforce Development and Innovation

Continuing to advance the region’s economy


Carlow University proposed the initiative to help ensure that new graduates, as well as those currently employed, were adequately prepared for the jobs of the future. This vision included a larger adaptation of skill sets across multiple occupations requiring a stronger partnership between industry and education leaders.

The importance of launching the Hub:

In 2016, Pittsburgh found itself at a critical intersection threatening the region’s economy. It was predicted then that over the next 10 years, a quarter of a million people in the workforce would enter retirement – and another 1.2 million workers would need to be hired or upskilled in order to fill the gap created by rapidly evolving technological changes and an underdeveloped pipeline of new talent.

With a long commitment to liberal arts and skills development, Carlow University responded to the Allegheny Conference’s 2016 and 2017-2018 Inflection Point Reports, addressing the skills gap by creating the Hub for Workforce Development and Innovation. The Hub developed new programs, established partnerships in industry and developed alternative pathways for education, continuing to provide opportunities for students in fields across different industries.

The Hub is unique to this region in its approach to partnering with regional employees and Carlow University employees. The Hub provides programs that are specific to the needs of the region’s workforce.

How it was made possible:

Carlow University received a two-year $500,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to implement the Hub. It will continue to sustain itself through the success of its diverse, scalable programs.

Launching the Hub:

As a new initiative at Carlow University, the Hub applied strategic decisions in the establishment of the partnerships, programs and courses that were developed in response to the region’s workforce needs.

In order to sustain the Hub long-term, it is essential that its programs are responsive to current needs and that it continues to develop individuals for the workforce. To that end, the university has established a College of Professional Studies that will further build on Carlow’s expertise and success in providing transformational educational opportunities for adults and professionals in the Pittsburgh region.

Rachael Afolabi, the former executive director of the Center for Digital Learning and Hub for Workforce Development and Innovation; Scott Mehall, senior instructional designer, workforce development coordinator and online instructional design and technology certificate program director; and Jessica Martin, digital learning and workforce development specialist, were involved in leading and executing the activities of the Hub for Workforce Development and Innovation.

How Carlow’s students benefit:

Students form partnerships with potential employers in the region, completing programs and courses that provide them with the skills that are necessary to meet employers’ needs. They gain transferrable skills that are needed to be successful in a variety of fields in the region.

How this has positioned Carlow within the region:

This project has allowed Carlow to explore and establish alternative delivery models and pathways to degree completion and skills development, and to explore additional revenue streams that enable the university to reach untapped markets and individuals with barriers to education.

Programming elements:

  • Academic program development: Traditional university programs (bachelor’s, master’s)
  • Alternative pathways: Alternative means of obtaining educational qualifications other than the traditional means of gaining access to a required program of study to obtain educational qualifications.
  • Industry partnerships: Innovative, strategic partnerships between academia and industry to address a major component of the inflection report. Some industry partners are directly involved with university program development or with a critical need for talent development in a specific industry.

For more information on the Hub for Workforce Development and Innovation, contact Jim Ice, EdD, at