YSU Center for Workforce Education and Innovation: Closing the "skills gap" in our community

Jennifer Oddo
Jennifer Oddo

Jennifer Oddo, who has led workforce development efforts at IBM for the past five years, is the new executive director of Strategic Workforce Education and Innovation at Youngstown State University.

Oddo will lead the YSU Center for Workforce Education and Innovation, a newly-formed entity that focus on new approaches to close the skills and opportunity gaps for our communities.

“Traditional workforce development and hiring practices are not yielding consistent results and leading to unfilled positions, higher attrition, poor job satisfaction and increased costs for employers,” said Oddo, who co-chairs the Apprenticeship Working Group for the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education.

The new Center will work to advance how higher education partners with industry and the community to build workforce strategies and programs leveraging YSU's national Department of Labor registered apprenticeship program, pre-apprenticeship, industry training and credentials.

“Meeting the workforce where they are at in their life and learning journey will be key to building a more resilient workforce,” Oddo said. “Higher education’s ability to innovate and address the modern-day educational needs of our community, combined with employer’s willingness to hire those who are skilled through alternative educational routes, will be key to our economic prosperity."

Oddo, who holds a bachelor’s degree in International Marketing from the University of Akron, has worked in various talent and workforce positions at IBM since 2015. She most recently served as IBM’s co-chair of the Consumer Technology Association Apprenticeship Coalition, where she led IBM’s industry initiatives to scale external workforce and apprenticeship initiatives with member companies. She has extensive experience in talent acquisition and human resources, including talent acquisition manager-North America for Black Box Network Services, and director of global recruiting for Whittman-Hart.

Oddo currently serves as co-chair of the National Initiative for Cyber Education (NICE) Apprenticeship Working Group, TeamNeo (JobsOhio Network Partner) Talent Development Council, and is former vice chair of the Ohio State Apprenticeship Council.