Conference to be held in Chicago

By Deanna Cabinian

The Institute for Work and the Economy will hold its Workplace Learning Conference from Sunday through Wednesday at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in downtown Chicago.

Diana Robinson, senior research associate at NIU and director of the conference, said the event is an opportunity for professionals from a variety of sectors to find out what’s happening with workplace and adult learning. She said the conference is for anyone who has an interest in these types of issues, such as professionals or working people in general.

The conference’s theme is “Advancing Adult Work-Based Learning: Building a 21st Century Community of Practice.” Robinson said there will be speakers and workshops at the conference.

According to the conference’s Web site,, some of the keynote speakers will be Emily Stover DeRocco, assistant secretary of employment and training administration for the U.S. Department of Labor; Jeff Taylor, CEO of; Edward Potter, president of the Employment Policy Foundation; Susan Sclafani, acting assistant secretary of the Office of Vocational and Adult Education for the U.S. Department of Education; and William Lucy, secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Robinson said there will be a cross-section of topics discussed, including trends in the North American labor market, shifts in the economy, how to perform well and advance on the job and how to help people with barriers to employment.

This is the seventh year of the conference, Robinson said. It is run by the Institute for Work and the Economy, a non-profit organization staffed by NIU professionals that looks at applied policy and research in the areas of work and learning.

Robinson said they expect between 550 and 600 people to attend the conference. Standard registration for the conference is $395, but NIU students, faculty and staff receive a 25 percent discount, she said.

The conference isn’t only for the NIU community. Robinson said people from throughout the United States are coming, and some people are traveling from as far away as Australia.

There are two reasons why people should attend the conference, Robinson said. People can pick up new ideas to help them grow into their jobs and also build networks with people who share their interests.

To register for the conference, call 753-6925 or visit