In our Executive Q&A series, we talk with chief leaders across JEVS Human Services about programs, services and initiatives that are “making hope happen” for our clients and those in need throughout the Greater Philadelphia region. This month, we spoke with our new Senior Vice President of Career & Technical Education, Christine Gillespie.
Q. What attracted you to JEVS Human Services?
A. My entire career has been dedicated to promoting self-agency and encouraging preparation for life’s opportunities and responsibilities. Part of the equation for long-term success in the labor market is education, which can mean foundational skills, technical skills or even advanced degrees or certificates. JEVS was founded to assist those in need to find and keep good jobs. Today JEVS is a critical support network, focused on helping individuals realize their vocational and personal potential. JEVS is the perfect place for me to bring the passion for my life’s work.
Q. Your role at JEVS is about creating opportunities for job seekers to build skills to get ahead. What challenges do you see in helping people rebound from pandemic-related unemployment?
A. The pandemic has forced us to reevaluate so many aspects of our day-to-day lives, both at work and at home. One of the biggest challenges of these times is to accept that the choices we made five or ten years ago may no longer work for ourselves and our families. While difficult, this is a great opportunity to reexamine our values and goals and adjust. When thinking about your employment options, you might ask yourself:
- Can I support myself and my family as I would like in my current situation?
- What talents and skills do I have to offer to an employer or others?
- If I choose to make a change, what am I willing to do? Do I need to acquire new skills? What about work-life balance and the “logistics” of employment such as commute time?
- Who can help me develop and implement my plan? What supports will I need to make a change?
Q. How does life-long learning fit in?
A. Now more than ever, investing in ourselves to support life-long learning is critical. We must all continue to be curious, learn new skills and stay current in whatever field we choose. While no job is “pandemic-proof” some fields have withstood the challenges of the past two years, like the building trades. Our Orleans Technical College is a great place to acquire skills that are in high demand in the various trades careers. These jobs can also be a springboard to entrepreneurship, management roles or higher education.
For others, life-long learning is about building new skills to get ahead in the field in which they are already working. In this case, finding flexible, affordable ways to learn like with our EduConnect program can help you to advance on your chosen career path. Finally, there are many so-called white and grey-collar apprenticeship opportunities with companies that need employees and are willing to hire them now and train them on the job. These jobs allow workers to earn and learn in a new field.
Q. Since it is January, we must ask…any New Year’s resolutions to share?
A. It is not a New Year’s resolution per se, but since I’m new in my role at JEVS, this year I’m focused on encouraging an innovative environment for my team to collaborate and share resources, creating leading-edge programs and opportunities for those we serve. I want to be sure we are capitalizing on what we do well and providing seamless pathways for jobseekers to build the skills they need to connect with regional employers. And I’m hoping to have my original 1991 Miata roadworthy in time for that first warm day this spring!