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Panel Discussion on Skills Gap, Tuition-reimbursement Benefits Slated for Sept. 27

HADLEY — Associated Industries of Massachusetts and UMass Amherst University Without Walls will host a panel discussion on the workforce skills gap and tuition-reimbursement benefits on Thursday, Sept. 27 from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Hadley Farms Meeting House, 41 Russell St., Hadley.

Industry and workforce-development leaders will detail the current skills gaps facing Western Mass. industries and the impact that employee-friendly educational programs and tuition-reimbursement benefits can have in closing those gaps. University Without Walls (UWW) staff and student panelists will detail how non-traditional higher-education programs can benefit both employees and their employers, helping working adults increase their level of education while balancing work, life, and family.

Keynote speaker Cheryl Scott is the executive director of the MassHire State Workforce Board, which serves as an advisory board to Gov. Charlie Baker on building a strong workforce-development system that is aligned with economic-development goals and education policies. Scott has worked in workforce-development policy and programming for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts since 2009, and helped to spearhead the Massachusetts Career Readiness Initiative, a statewide effort to enhance basic skill development and work-readiness credentialing across the workforce-development, adult-education, and community-college systems.

Panelists include Joanne Berwald, vice president of Human Resources at Mestek Inc.; Jason Randall, director of Human Resources at MGM Springfield; Jesse Lederman and Myles Sanders, pre-admissions advisors and recruitment coordinators for UWW; and Joan Iwanicki, UWW student.

“For over four decades, UWW has been working to provide an option for non-traditional adult students to take the next step in their careers by earning a bachelor’s degree,” said Ingrid Bracey, director of UMass Amherst University Without Walls. “The skills gaps that exists today support the need for programs like ours that help working adults develop the knowledge, skills, and credentials they need to move up in their careers, as well as meet the growing needs of industry.”

Dawn Creighton, Western Mass. director of Associated Industries of Massachusetts, added that her organization has identified the skills gap as a major concern, and believes a discussion about tuition reimbursement is important for retention, recruiting, and job development.”

The cost of the event is $25, and includes coffee and a continental breakfast. To register, click here. For more information, e-mail Creighton at [email protected].

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