The Central Chamber Report: Businesses and Schools – Stronger by Educating Together

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    On Wednesday, April 13, 2016 the Central Chamber held its Monthly Investors’ Luncheon.  These meetings are held the 2nd Wednesday of each month, feature guest speakers, and provide an opportunity for our members to network with other member businesses.  This month’s guest speaker was Tricia Merrick, College and Career Liaison at Central High School.  
    Educational Workforce Development is crucial for the economic development and soundness of our community.  Ms. Merrick shared with the Chamber Investors how Jump Start Graduation Pathways are helping to assure ongoing Educational Workforce Development. For business owners who have students currently in High School this may be old news.  However, for those whose children have already graduated or are still in lower grades, it was interesting to hear what the Jump Start initiative is accomplishing locally!  Louisiana’s Jump Start program is a new paradigm for career and technical education (CTE), requiring students to attain an industry valued credential in order to graduate high school.  Students have the opportunity in high school to earn industry valued credentials in the career fields most likely to lead to high paying jobs, while preparing them to continue their post-secondary education and career development.
    Some of the Career Pathways that Central is currently offering include Carpenter, Certified Mechanical Drafter, Certified Nursing Assistant, Cyber Engineering, Dental, Electrician, Emergency Medical Tech, Welder, Digital Media, and Hospitality, Tourism, Culinary, and Retail. 
    By partnering with the local schools, the commerce community can be of assistance by providing internships, being a mentor, providing job shadowing opportunities, being a guest speaker, and serving on an advisory council to develop more pathways.  By working together in this fashion our students receive tremendous job insights, gain valuable work experiences, acquire new skills while refining others, build confidence, and see the practical application of what they have been learning in the classroom.  Businesses have the opportunity to help shape the next generation workforce, encourage future entrepreneurs, have motivated student employees, and possibly gain a future long-term employee.  This is what you refer to as a WIN WIN!  Businesses benefit, schools benefit, and our community’s future is brighter as we are stronger by educating together!
Ron Erickson, President, Central Chamber of Commerce