Community College of Allegheny County

The Hill Group partnered with the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) to enhance southwestern Pennsylvania’s economic competitiveness by identifying potential high-growth industries and related emerging workforce needs. CCAC, through its Allegheny County Workforce Alliance, commissioned the study to strengthen their workforce development initiatives and prioritize opportunities to affect human capital needs in the Pittsburgh region.

“This study provides a window on the future of Pittsburgh’s workforce,” said CCAC president Alex Johnson.  “CCAC continues to be proactive in seeking out future opportunities and opening them for our students”.

The Hill Group conducted both qualitative and quantitative research to identify, evaluate, and confirm high-growth and emerging industries and the skill sets they would require.  As part of the research, Hill Group consultants conducted extensive interviews with stakeholders from private industry, education, trade associations, and economic development and public workforce entities. 

The study identified healthcare and life sciences, energy, and financial services and insurance as key high-growth industries for the Pittsburgh region.  The greatest promise for growth in employment and economic impact were located at the convergence of these industries with the manufacturing and/or information technology sectors.  These “Nexus Industries” will require workers with skills that straddle both worlds, mixing a knowledge of the terms, concepts, and operations of the high-growth field with strong competencies in manufacturing and/or information technology.  For example, many healthcare providers are at the initial stages of developing or implementing electronic medical records systems.   As a result, there is a growing need for IT professionals to develop, implement, and troubleshoot these systems, as well as for traditional care providers, like doctors and nurses, to have a functional understanding of this technology as it relates to patient records and tracking.

According to Hill Group CEO Chris Brussalis, “The study brings to light the acute need for training programs that prepare students with skills and competencies beyond traditionally defined occupation requirements.  These high-growth, Nexus Industries require workers with a blending of skills that bring both industry-specific knowledge and competencies in information technology or manufacturing.  Students trained in this “liaison skill set” will not only bring best practices to their companies, but will be more efficient, effective problem solvers and better equipped to meet the demands of today’s firms and those of tomorrow.

”CCAC already plays a key role as a connector between industry and workers.  The Hill Group study will help the College and the Workforce Alliance continue to lead in this role and in preparing individuals for southwestern Pennsylvania’s emerging career opportunities.  Through the Workforce Alliance, CCAC will work with employers and organized labor to identify enhancements to current course offerings and develop new training programs that meet the workforce needs of the high-growth, Nexus Industries.

“It’s important that people realize that these careers will require an interdisciplinary approach,” said Charles Blocksidge, executive director of the Workforce Alliance.  “Focusing on just one field is not enough.  Fortunately, CCAC offers a wide variety of options for students to build their skills in these Nexus areas. Read the Full Report