If your business is looking for ways to get involved in education, consider using the skills and talents of your employees to advance the mission of your company through teaching a relevant subject area. The Salt Lake Chamber recently spoke with Karen Seo, Relationship Development Manager with Cyprus Credit Union, about how they successfully implemented a program like this to be involved in their local schools, why education is so important to their company, and tips and ideas for how other businesses can do the same.

Chamber: How did you get involved in volunteering in the Jordan School District? What exactly do you teach?

Seo: We have been involved in the West Jordan Chamber of Commerce’s Business to Education Partnership Council for many years–I currently chair the council and have interacted and worked directly with CTE coordinators to help us contact teachers about teaching financial literacy classes for their classes. We now teach financial literacy classes throughout the Jordan School District and include information how to budget, how to manage your money, what it means to get a loan, etc. Cyprus Credit Union employees volunteer to go talk to a class and share about their job and teach about financial management. For the past 5 years, we have also hosted a job seminar at our credit union that highlights all the jobs available in a credit union. This helps students see that available jobs within a credit union include more than just tellers, but also accounting, IT, marketing, card services, titles, insurance, collections, internal audit, and contact center opportunities.  

Chamber: Why is partnering with the local school district a priority for Cyprus Credit Union? More broadly, why is developing a skilled workforce a priority for your company?

Seo: The credit union believes that educating youth as well as adults on how to manage their money will put them in a financial position to pave the way to their dreams.That’s why we teach about finances and money earlier in life – elementary, junior high and high school. We also continue to be involved in education in a variety of ways including partnering with Jordan School District, Junior Achievement, Utah Scholars, Reality Towns, job fairs and teaching financial literacy classes. We hope that by teaching youth earlier in life how to manage their money, they will manage their money well as adults, too. Developing these skills leads to a more prepared workforce and helps support our local economy now and in the future.

Chamber: From your experience, why is it important for businesses to engage in educational initiatives such as CTE?

Seo: Being on the Business to Education Partnership Council, we hear from the Jordan School District CTE coordinators as well as many businesses about the need for more skilled employees. Sometimes these jobs don’t require a college degree but rather technical skills that can help them be successful in the field. Companies can look for these opportunities to provide an internship or apprenticeship to students and get them excited about their particular industry. We believe by businesses getting involved with local schools/school districts will allow students to discover the available jobs in the workforce and show how a job can progress to a career.

Chamber: What advice would you give to a business looking to get involved with their local schools/district?

Seo: The most important advice I can give is for the business to show a commitment to these initiatives. There has to be a commitment from someone within the company to be willing to go to these events or to the schools to talk about their business. If it’s approached more from the perspective of educating students about the industry, what you do, and the types of jobs available at the company to help expand students horizons versus just simply telling people to come apply for jobs–you company will be much more successful. I recommend businesses contact their local school district or high school’s CTE department and ask about upcoming job or career fairs or opportunities to be in the classroom to talk about your business or industry. Our experience has been that the schools, teachers and students love to have businesses come in to provide some “real world” context into what they’re learning.

Utah’s business community continues to be committed to education and workforce development throughout the state. How will your company and employees get involved? Share your successes and best practices with us so together we can build a more skilled and prepared workforce and improve Utah’s economy.