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Citicorp/Citibank Workforce Project

Award: $110,756
Funding Source: Citicorp/Citibank
Assistant Dean, Ciarco Learning Center Walter Hecht
Manager of Grants & Projects, Ciarco Learning Center Marilyn MacDonall

Proposal Abstract

Bergen Community College’s Ciarco Learning Center seeks to strengthen the quality of our workforce by forging new alliances. Successful partnerships involve business and industry, labor, education, government, community organizations and workers themselves. The education and business community partnership between Citibank and the Ciarco Learning Center exemplifies some of the best that these alliances can offer.

Since opening its northern New Jersey operations center in 1998, Citibank recognized a need to increase the skill set of its entry-level workforce. “In today’s competitive marketplace, there is a competitive advantage in having an educated employee base,” says Joseph Gazzillo, president of Citicorp Data Systems, Inc. and a member of CIANJ’s Board of Directors.

The need to further enhance workforce skills led Citibank to partner with the Bergen Community College Ciarco Learning Center almost two years ago. Since then more than 800 Citibank employees have successfully completed over 100 courses in workplace literacy, business communications and other basic skills programs. The success of the partnership was evident from the very beginning. Not only did business operations and employee performance improve, but the partnership has had a positive impact on the corporate culture as well.

“It is our goal to foster a work environment in which our employees can enrich their lives, both professionally and personally,” says Gazzillo. “By committing to the overall well-being of our employees, they will be more likely to return that commitment in their daily job performance, and in interactions with their communities.”

The Citibank and Ciarco Learning Center partnership sets an example that should serve as a catalyst for the development of other such partnerships by employers who are contemplating the establishment of basic skills, workplace literacy and or English language acquisition training programs for their employees. Improving basic skills in the workplace is one of the best ways that the private sector can help ensure the quality of the products and services they provide. As . Tammy Molinelli, executive director of the Bergen County Workforce Investment Board believes that “literacy is one of the keys to economic development within New Jersey."