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CAEL Pathways Blog

CAEL Named Partner To Develop Career Pathways for Six-state Multi-year Great Lakes ReNEW Initiative

Great Lakes ReNEW, a six-state collaboration comprised of CAEL and several other partners, is set to receive funding for up to 10 years from the U.S. National Science Foundation. Current, a Chicago-based water innovation hub, coordinates Great Lakes ReNEW in partnership with Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago.

CAEL’s grant-funded participation will support Great Lakes ReNEW’s work to build and expand a “water-focused innovation engine in the Great Lakes region.” Workforce development and diverse stakeholder engagement figure prominently in its plan to do so, which is where CAEL, as workforce development partner for mapping and developing career pathways, comes in. CAEL has mapped career pathways across the U.S. and brings that experience and expertise to its work with Great Lakes ReNEW.

Earl Buford, CAEL’s president, said, “Our work with Great Lakes ReNEW will achieve the outcome CAEL is focused on: for all adults to have an equitable opportunity for and success in obtaining credentials and skills that lead to well-paying, good quality jobs, increase earnings and economic mobility, and improve quality of life.”

Collaboration throughout the workforce development ecosystem is seen as critical to Great Lakes ReNEW’s objective to mitigate water scarcity through new reclamation methods of transforming “waste into wealth.” “Great Lakes ReNEW will help us connect the dots between industries, sectors, and states to promote research and innovation, bolster our workforce to meet 21st-century needs, and transform our economies for future generations,” said Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers. 

The recipient of one of the largest-ever investments in regional research and economic development, Great Lakes ReNEW is committed to an inclusive education and training approach that sustains a “pipeline of opportunities from K to grey for individuals most affected by joblessness and systemic barriers to participation.” CAEL’s role in Great Lakes ReNEW is ensuring those individuals can participate in the rewarding occupations that will emerge and expand in support of the project. Core to its work will be identifying and convening organizations within the regional blue economy and adjacent sectors to define and develop occupational career pathways that ensure a qualified talent pool for well-paid jobs with strong upward mobility. 

To sustain these pathways, CAEL will facilitate continual alignment among workforce development organizations, educators, and trainers. It will also engage local and regional employers to support their efforts to hire, retain, and advance workers, especially those most affected by joblessness and systemic barriers.

These efforts will directly support Great Lakes ReNEW’s goal to train 500 workers for blue-economy jobs and enroll 1,000 secondary students in STEM programs in the first two years of the project. In the process, the initiative anticipates investing in and launching dozens of water tech companies. 

Read more about Great Lakes ReNEW at greatlakesrenew.org and view the full announcement at https://new.nsf.gov/news/nsf-establishes-10-inaugural-regional-innovation. A video about the project is also available at https://vimeo.com/907314232/3da4d1f9c1

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