Over the past several weeks, the Chamber’s workforce development blogs have explored why building a skilled workforce is critical for the continued success of Utah’s economy, as well as the importance of career and technical education programs aligning with industry needs. Next week, panelists at the Chamber’s quarterly Prosperity 2020 Forum will share ideas for how businesses can be most impactful in workforce development on all levels. Our panelists are education and workforce experts who will share how companies can engage in the classroom, take part in big picture solutions and stay familiarized with successful programs such as Career and Technical Education and Talent Ready Utah.

As a preview for that event, here are four simple ways your business can get involved in developing skilled workers for the jobs of the future:

  1. Take advantage of existing programs. If your company cares about solving workforce challenges, know that you don’t need to come up with your own way to engage. There are dozens of workforce development programs and initiatives already in place that focus on connecting industry and education. For example, the STEM Mentor Exchange or “STEMmx”, is an innovative mobile app designed as a simple way for teachers and skilled volunteers (such as employees working in the STEM field) to connect and help prepare a more vibrant STEM workforce in Utah. Another example is Talent Ready Utah, a statewide initiative to focus and unify the efforts of businesses to enhance education and promote programs that provide training for students to be successful in high-demand occupations.
  2. Engage and collaborate with students and administrators. Local campuses, school districts and high schools all have opportunities for business leaders to collaborate with students and administrators. This could be anything from talking to the career center at a local high school about possible partnerships, to  sharing your expertise with a CTE class. Universities and technical colleges have advisory boards set up as a way for community members and business leaders to share ideas and feedback that will help make the degrees and certificates offered at a particular institution more aligned with industry and workforce needs.
  3. Consider work-based learning opportunities. Work-based learning is a way to provide students with real-world experiences that augment their education and help them learn and utilize employable skills and knowledge. Consider if your company could provide an internship, apprenticeship or job shadowing opportunity for a few students as work-based learning is proven to be one of the most effective ways for students to stay motivated in their education, maintain good educational outcomes and gain full-time employment. 
  4. “Skill up” underemployed workers. Along with traditional high school and college students that need training and educational opportunities to be successful in the workforce, many Utahns are underemployed. Underemployment refers to workers who are part-time but would prefer to be full-time, highly skilled but working in low skilled jobs or who are in a lower paying job than their skills and education would suggest. Your company can work with local educational institutions to identify their high demand jobs, share the types of skills needed in today’s rapidly changing economy and then

Register for the upcoming Prosperity 2020 Forum on September 21, 2017: Click Here