MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NJ – Investing in skills ontology is an important part of the future of work, according to Rebecca Brabant, this year’s New Jersey Human Resources Summit keynote speaker.

Brabant, Head of Early in Career Talent & Development for All Global Talent Management at Johnson & Johnson delivered the keynote address, “Connected Talent Management… Reinventing Work Using Skills” at this year’s virtual summit - entitled “Creating A Connected Community” – on Feb. 25.

The summit was presented by the Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce (MCRCC) in collaboration with Central New Jersey Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and focused on how the pandemic has impacted the way organizations need to approach reskilling and upskilling their workers for future needs.

Skills ontology refers to a “dictionary” that includes a common language of skills, defining the aspects of a specific job rather than relying on blanket terms and vague descriptions, Brabant explained.

“Our world is changing so quickly and in order to help employees better see the future, we as employers need to keep their skills fresh and provide ways for them to apply new skills,” she said, focusing on customized development plans and the importance of data-driven decisions.

Brabant’s address also covered relevant topics ranging from future-focused skill growth, internal marketplaces, and rethinking talent development.

The event featured a diverse panel discussion and breakout sessions focusing on workforce development and virtual engagement.

The panel discussion, “Developing Your Workforce at All Levels,” was moderated by Sam Caucci, CEO and Founder of 1Huddle. The panel included Coltrane Stansbury, VP of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at MacMillan Learning; Chandni Patel, Staffing Team Leader at Amazon Workforce Staffing; Andrew Escobar, HR Manager at Reckitt Benckiser; Rachel Jimenez, Director of People & Talent Development at CFO Strategies and Kevin Dunshee, Chief Commercial Officer at Solar Landscape.

Dunshee highlighted that his company has benefited from partnerships with like-minded local organizations. Leveraging these partnerships has been a great way for Solar Landscape to focus on workforce development.

“We are placing a priority on workforce diversity and inclusion as part of our long-term growth strategy. We are working with nonprofits and colleges across the state to provide training to low and middle-skilled employees to help ensure their success in the renewable energy field,” he said.

Stansbury focused on how there is a need for employers to identify different talents in their employees and help them use their skills effectively.

“The future of work includes diverse, nimble, self-educated and self-motivated workers and this kind of talent needs to be recognized and nurtured,” he said.

The interactive breakout session entitled, “Engagement Beyond Zoom” was led by Joan A. Kampo, Director of Human Resources at Withum. Discussion leaders for the group sessions include Barry Rudner, Human Resources Director at B&H Consulting Services, Inc; Matt Alcalde, VP of Life Sciences and Healthcare at Coda Staffing; Jessica Lavin, Business Performance Advisor at Insperity and Kevin Kurdziel, CEO and Director of the Middlesex County Workforce Development Board and Office of Career Opportunity.

“Our summit this year provided attendees with important insight on the skills their organizations need to successfully reskill and upskill their workforce to meet the demands of this ever-changing world,” said MCRCC President Lina Llona.

This is the fourth year that MCRCC has partnered with SHRM of Central New Jersey to present the HR Summit.

“As demonstrated through the annual HR Summit, we continue to provide HR and business professionals of Middlesex and Somerset counties information on topical employment issues,” said Rudner, SHRM CNJ President. “Further, the breakout sessions enabled us to have direct conversations with attendees, providing actionable takeaways regarding COVID challenges and employee engagement.”