City of Chicago: Transforming the 21st Century Workforce through Education

February 28, 2012 - 2 Comments

Guest post by Todd Huston, Strategic Business Development Manager, Cisco Systems. Todd helps Higher Education and K-12 customers transform their operations and the student experience with technology.

Preparing the next-generation of students for the workforce is a critical responsibility.  Without skills in science, engineering, math and technology, innovation cannot advance at the rate needed to sustain the economic growth we are all working to foster.

—     Wim Elfrink, Cisco

As a part of my job at Cisco, I have the opportunity to meet with IT professionals and school administrators to discuss how students are being equipped with the necessary skills to compete in the 21st century. Earlier today I visited the Chicago Vocational Career Academy where Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced an initiative to help better prepare high school and community college graduates for the 21st century workforce.

The question of how to prepare students for life after school is a subject we frequently discuss on this blog. With the support of Cisco and other tech heavyweights, including IBM, Microsoft, Motorola and Verizon Wireless, students in Chicago will have the opportunity to enroll in one of five Early College STEM Schools (ECSS) that will focus on technology skills and career readiness. Students will also be able to earn college credits.

At the event Mayor Emanuel was joined by Jean-Claude Brizard, CEO, Chicago Public Schools; Cheryl Hyman, Chancellor, City Colleges of Chicago; and Wim Elfrink, executive vice president, Emerging Solutions Group and chief globalisation officer, Cisco – among others. These esteemed speakers addressed gathered media, students, IT professionals and school administrators for this exciting announcement.

You can view the entire announcement from the Chicago Vocational Career Academy here. To view the official press release, visit the City Colleges of Chicago website here.

More information about ECSS can be found by visiting:

What skills do you think graduates need to possess to be competitive in the global economy?

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  1. Hi Lisa,
    Thanks for your interest and comment. You can find more info on the ECSS Program and CPS contact info at:

  2. Gary,

    I’m a resident of the Chicago suburbs, and I have been a workforce development professional for DuPage County for the past 10 years. I’m wondering if there is anyone I can contact who is working with the Early College STEM Schools project locally. I’m curious if any hiring will be taking place, as I feel very strongly about this initiative and would love to contribute.