Aligning Business & Education Needs

This week I attended the Business & Education Summit, an annual event in Frederick County, Virginia. The event is organized by the Business & Education Initiative Task Force, made up of local educators, business leaders, nonprofit leaders, and community members. As a member of the task force, I’ve learned a lot about the local area and the needs and challenges of business, education, nonprofit, and government sectors when it comes to ensuring that our region has a skilled workforce and the job opportunities to support that workforce.

This year’s summit featured presentations by Debby Hopkins, Workforce Officer & Project Director at Shenandoah Valley Workforce Development Board; Missy McDonald, Work-Based Learning Coordinator, Frederick County Public Schools; Jeanian Clark, Vice President of Workforce Solutions, Lord Fairfax Community College; and stories of successful participants in various learning initiatives in this area.

 

Some of the challenges that came up in the many discussions that took place were:

  • Determining the most effective methods of informing young people and adults on the myriad educational opportunities and career paths that are available
  • How to increase business presence in schools
  • How to reduce turnover among newly hired entry-level employees
  • How to align employer needs with K-12 curricula
  • How to educate the general population of all the partners, programs, events, and opportunities with overlapping missions that exist in this area

 

One of the most powerful takeaways was from four graduates of local workforce initiatives; two common threads among their success stories were:

  1. Each was introduced to his education/career path and opportunities by an individual with whom they had a personal connection
  2. Each demonstrates the hallmarks of a growth mindset

So, how do we facilitate these two common threads in all individuals? This is the bigger question that the Taskforce wishes to address. If you’re interested in learning more about the task force or would like to get involved, please contact me.

Business & Education Summit Information 

Vision:

By 2023 our community will have a skilled workforce that meets the needs of local employers. Students and potential employees will understand the skills required to function independently in society, will know and demonstrate required work skills and the community will provide ways to achieve these skills. Students and potential employees will gain needed skills thus closing the skills gap which, will increase the number of eligible and skilled candidates within our community.

Business, education and community stakeholders will partner to create initiatives that will ensure a well prepared and trained workforce through open communication, collaboration, active participation and monetary investments.

The community will shift its mentality of university for every high school graduate and instead understand and appreciate the full range of career opportunities available for students. The community will understand that technical careers are valuable and have a purpose within our community. They will also understand and support the means by which these skills are obtained.

Goals:

  • Business, education, government, and other stakeholders will collaborate to ensure a well-prepared workforce.
  • The initiative is making demonstrable progress toward a skilled workforce.
  • The community advocates and supports all career paths.
  • The community has the life skills and work skills required to support the business community.