Champlain Summit Focuses on Jobs

BURLINGTON, VT — To meet the challenges of an ever-changing 21st century workforce and to support the new economic realities of doing business in Vermont and elsewhere, Champlain College will bring together students, alumni, faculty, staff, trustees, businesses, government officials and others to envision a new educational career model at The Champlain College Summit: "Building Partnerships for a Thriving Workforce" on Aug. 10-11.

The urgency to create a new way of thinking about work and how we educate people for their professional life is reflected in Vermont's projected demographics, organizers say.

According to the Vermont Workforce Development Council's Annual Report 2010, "The available workforce in Vermont has shown little growth in recent years and will begin to shrink in 2012.

"Combine that with U.S. Census data showing a decline in the 20-34 year old population in Vermont and an expected 18 percent decline in Vermont's high school population over the next decade - and the time to prepare for those demographic shifts is now, observes Champlain College President David F. Finney.

A PricewaterhouseCoopers report "Managing Tomorrow's People: the Future of Work to 2020" predicts that employers will want more flexibility in their workforce; they will hire a relatively small core of regular employees and will rely on contracted professionals for short-term projects. Champlain College believes it is well positioned to respond to these changes by preparing and connecting its graduates in a way that enables the work of the future to be done.

At the August Summit, the Champlain community will "engage with businesses, non-profits and economic drivers to identify what employers need to foster robust business growth and envision, a new career cycle model for the 21st century - a process to give our students, graduates and connected businesses the new skills needed to adapt to changing human capital needs," Finney said. "It is about creating a competitive advantage for Champlain's graduates and for Vermont's businesses and entrepreneurs."

The Champlain College Summit will employ the appreciative inquiry process favored by Bob Stiller, CEO of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Honorary Chair of the Summit. He spearheaded the use of the collaborative management process at his successful Waterbury-based business and credits appreciative inquiry with moving the company forward. "When you focus on what works and you dream of the possibilities, it's very inspiring to people," said Stiller.

By bringing a diverse community to the Summit, Finney said, "we'll take advantage of what Champlain does best: listen, learn and use the information gained to create innovative programs that will meet the needs of students, graduates and businesses now and decades into the future. It is what Champlain has been doing extremely well since it was founded in 1878."

"Only by listening to others can we expect to meet employers' current and future workforce needs (knowledge, flexibility, leadership, global-connectivity) while also ensuring that our students and alumni succeed over the course of their working life," Finney added.

"Together, we will create a model that further differentiates our students and alumni in the world of work. The Summit will help us craft concrete strategies to deliver the best prepared graduates to serve as employees and employers in Vermont, across the U.S. and around the world."

Planners of the Champlain College Summit say they are building for the future on the foundation of successful change in the College's past. To register, visit

"Many of you have seen Champlain College undertake bold initiatives in the past. From the Center for Financial Literacy to the Emergent Media Center to our award-winning Global Modules, Champlain College has demonstrated the ability to create transformative partnerships, form new processes and realize outcomes that simply aren't possible using the old models of learning. These and other novel initiatives keep us on the edge of innovation and relevant in the global professional landscape," Finney said.

Earlier this year, Vt. Gov. Peter Shumlin highlighted the need for a growing diversity of jobs to keep Vermont's economy strong in the future in a March interview with Times Argus business reporter Bruce Edwards. In the interview, Shumlin said he was hopeful about the future, but knows Vermont's employers need three things in order to grow jobs here.

  • Competitive access to internet and cell phone service statewide
  • Getting health care costs under control
  • Having qualified workers in Vermont to do the jobs.

"I'm really optimistic about Vermont's job future and I'm working hard every day to ensure that we make the policy changes that will help us to capture that opportunity... we're trying from early childhood education to higher education to ensure that Vermont is the education state and that we have a trained workforce particularly in engineering, computer sciences, math and technology to capture those opportunities. So that's long term," Shumlin said.

"By convening this Summit, Champlain is promising to serve as an anchor in Vermont for the long-term, lifetime success of our graduates and students and as a driver of economic viability and sustainability for the state and its businesses," Finney said. "Vermont and Champlain College are uniquely positioned to produce the best thinking and develop the best people to do the jobs of the future. It is time to make that happen and the Summit is a tangible first step forward."

For more information about the Champlain College Summit: Building Partnerships for a Thriving Workforce, visit Videos about the conference, information about Appreciative Inquiry process, Champlain College's 2020 Strategic Plan and RSVP registration forms are available there.

Founded in 1878, Champlain College is a small, not-for-profit, private college in Burlington, Vermont, with additional campuses in Montreal, Canada, and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain offers a traditional undergraduate experience from its beautiful campus overlooking Lake Champlain and over 90 residential undergraduate and online undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certificates. Champlain's distinctive career-driven approach to higher education embodies the notion that true learning occurs when information and experience come together to create knowledge. Champlain College is included in the Princeton Review's The Best 384 Colleges: 2019 Edition. For the fourth year in a row, Champlain was named a "Most Innovative School" in the North by U.S. News & World Report's 2019 "America's Best Colleges,” and a “Best Value School” and is ranked in the top 100 “Regional Universities of the North” and in the top 25 for “Best Undergraduate Teaching.” Champlain is also featured in the Fiske Guide to Colleges for 2019 as one of the "best and most interesting schools" in the United States, Canada and Great Britain and is a 2019 College of Distinction. For more information, visit