Carlow University Receives $500,000 Grant for Workforce Development from R.K. Mellon Foundation

Carlow University received a $500,000 grant for workforce development from Richard King Mellon Foundation.

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Grant Will Fund the Creation of The Carlow Hub for Workforce Development and Innovation

Pittsburgh, Pa. – Carlow University has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation toward two-year support to establish the Carlow Hub for Workforce Development and Innovation.

“The Carlow Hub for Workforce Development and Innovation will bridge the gap between training and the development of critical skills and competencies required by our region’s employers,” said Suzanne K. Mellon, PhD, the president of Carlow University.  “This Hub will ensure our students’ skills sets are aligned with the future needs of our region’s economy.”

Occupation projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that analytical occupations in financial, management, market research, systems analysis, and customer service are particularly in demand and projected to grow.  It is predicted that over the next decade the greater Pittsburgh region will be in the throes of disruptive change and adaptation in the workforce.  More than one million workers will need to be hired or upskilled to meet the demands of employers.  “Upskilling” can be accomplished through Carlow’s recently announced “micro-master’s” program, as well as through more traditional undergraduate or graduate degree programs.

“Aligning the skills and talents of our graduates with the needs of the region’s economy is accomplished by heavily investing in key programs that provide clearly articulated pathways to in-demand jobs and careers,” said Russell F. Pinizzotto, PhD, Carlow’s interim provost.   “This new approach to integrating experience and current knowledge, combined with the convenience of self-paced online learning, puts individuals on the most direct path to earning a degree, while, at the same time, immediately provides employers with a larger pool of well qualified workers.”

Adapting skills sets across all occupations requires a stronger partnership between industry and education leaders.  Competency-based education (CBE), the ability to match the skills needed by employers with the talents of students, will become increasingly important.

Carlow’s groundbreaking educational delivery format, which will be flexible, efficient, and cost-effective, gives students the opportunity to demonstrate competencies and knowledge outside of the traditional degree pathway.  Carlow has been offering online courses since 1997, and, in 2012, the Center for Digital Learning and Innovation was created to further enhance online courses developed by Carlow faculty, instructional designers, and learning technology specialists who understand the specific needs of learners in an online environment.  When paired with the Carlow Hub for Workforce Development and Innovation, students will have added access to a centralized nucleus of programs needed to upskill and perform attentively in today’s technology-driven workforce.

“Leading the Carlow Hub for Workforce Development and Innovation will be a CBE coordinator, who will take an entrepreneurial role in identifying, cultivating, and executing corporate and community partnerships with decision-makers who seek to impact our workforce,” said Dr. Mellon. “This individual will essentially act as the point person who will be scanning the horizon for all things relevant to our regional economy, and, ultimately, will be the liaison between Carlow University and external stakeholders.”

In addition to aligning technical skills with the needs of employers, it has been recognized by employers, both regionally and nationally, of the need to pair “soft skills” – interpersonal communication, problem-solving agility, and resilience – with the technical skills.  Carlow has adapted its curriculum to enhance the development of these soft skills along with technical expertise.

“Carlow faculty redesigned the undergraduate general education curriculum, called The Compass, to create a unique and innovative curriculum rooted in the liberal arts and Catholic intellectual tradition,” said Dr. Pinizzotto.  “Through this liberal arts core experience, Carlow students develop the creative and critical reasoning skills essential to any professional, vocational, or personal situation.”

“Guided by The Compass, Carlow faculty assist students in developing clear and articulate career pathways that lead to successful careers, ensuring our region’s industries will have an adequate workforce supply and employees will have opportunities to advance their careers,” said Dr. Mellon.  “By adding the Carlow Hub for Workforce Development and Innovation, Carlow is poised to be a leader in meeting the current and emerging challenges in workforce development.”


About Carlow University

Carlow is a private, co-educational, Catholic university located in the heart of Pittsburgh’s “Eds, Meds, and Tech” district. Founded by the Sisters of Mercy, Carlow’s graduates, curricula, and partnerships reflect its strong commitment to social justice; ethical, forward-thinking and responsible leadership; and service to the community that has a meaningful impact. Undergraduate and graduate degrees are offered in three colleges: Health and Wellness, Leadership and Social Change, and Learning and Innovation. Carlow graduates are in demand for their professional expertise, in fields ranging from nursing, the sciences, and perfusion technology to counseling, education, and forensic accounting; their entrepreneurial spirit and creative mindset; and their ability to manage change.  Carlow’s 13 athletic teams are known as the Celtics, a reflection of the university’s Irish heritage and roots.

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