Economic Development News

Preparing today's students for the workforce Published: Thursday, February 16, 2017 8:00 am By: Missy Bonnot, Director, Economic Development

In the October 2016 edition of Chamber Today I wrote about the newly created Workforce Action Team that was formed after our April Board Retreat.  This Action Team, consisting of workforce development professionals and a subset of the current Chamber Human Resource Committee, has been working on action items which could impact workforce issues.

The Action Team broke into 4 subcommittees which have already started working diligently to address specific workforce issues.  The one I would like to focus on in this article is Subcommittee 4.  This subcommittee is chaired by Chamber volunteer, Shelle Jacobs. Shelle has a wealth of knowledge about Workforce Development and Education that she brings to the group as she is in Business and Industry Relations for State Technical College of Missouri.   The subcommittee and their objectives are as follows: 

  • Develop innovative strategies for High School students who will transition directly to workforce

  • Determine what programs and resources are needed for a high school graduate and prepare them for successful entry into the workforce

Talk to any employer in our community and it is no secret that finding available and trained employees is a challenge.  Not just in one industry but across all sectors. We all know many seniors that are graduating in May that will plan to attend a 2 or 4 year college, join the military or attend some type of vocational school. 

But what about the student that doesn’t choose that path? What can we do to prepare that 18 year old to go directly into starting their career?

Cole County’s unemployment rate for December 2016 was 3.3% which means we are at full employment. We have a large percentage of young people that need tools and skills to enter the workforce AND we have employers that need available workforce.

So what can we do to bridge the two together?  The subcommittee met for several months and will be making the following recommendations to the Board of Directors in February.

  • Fall Career Fair/Spring Hiring Event – exposure to various companies and careers.
    1. Organized by the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce with assistance from the Learning to Earning sub-committee
    2. Held at Jefferson City Public Schools
      1. Fall Career Fair – in conjunction with their fall college fair
      2. Spring Hiring Event – stand-alone event in April

Note:  A pilot Career Fair was held at JCPS on October 18th with 22 employers in attendance.  Results were positive. 

  • Development of a JC WORKS Informational Resource Guide for Job Seekers - information on job opportunities, application instructions, earning potential, company contacts, resume tips, etc. provided to job seeking high school graduates by counselors.
    1. Paper and electronic versions
    2. Charge participating companies a fee for being listed in the Resource Guide
  • Professional Development Opportunities/Education for High School Counselors
    1. Organized by the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce in partnership with area businesses
    2. Company tours for counselors and guest speaking events by industry partners
  • Research the CAPS (Centers for Advanced Professional Studies) program – a yearlong program for high school juniors and seniors to explore careers in various areas.
    1. Research done by the Learning to Earning sub-committee

 

This is just the tip of the iceberg but we think we are off to a good start.  Workforce Development is a huge issue for all employers and it no longer works to put a want ad in the paper.  In today’s climate, it is time to get creative and innovative and put new strategies in place.  To get information about the Hiring Event in April, contact me at missybonnot@jchamber.org or 638-3582.

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