MANSFIELD -- In an effort to find workforce solutions, the Richland Area Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development has planned a Fall Workforce Summit.
The day-long event will feature two presentations focused on current workforce issues and a networking lunch on Friday, Oct. 25, at North Central State College’s Kehoe Center, located at 175 Mansfield Ave. in Shelby.
“The goal is to convene the two most impacted parties in workforce development. We want to get educators and business leaders in the same room at the same time to open the lines of communication,” the chamber’s workforce development director, Clint Knight said.
He said the summit's first session will feature Kerry Koontz, who is a career counselor at Van Wert High School. He has developed a powerful and rapidly growing internship and work-experience program called "CEO" (Career Education Opportunity).
The program is offered to seniors as an elective course where students are released during the school day and partnered with either a teacher to provide educational experiences or local businesses. They are offered a mix of internships, apprenticeships or other business opportunities.
The goal is to provide students with the opportunity to learn necessary skill sets for a specific career and valuable soft skills necessary in the workforce. Further, the course explains types of post-secondary education or training required in each of the career fields.
In its fourth year, the program had more than 75 interns from the high school.
During the afternoon, the Women's Fund of Greater Cincinnati Foundation will present a “tool kit for employers,” which Knight hopes will help companies learn to better understand their employees and how best to support them in a way that the employees become engaged in their jobs and committed to the company and its success.
In a press release, Knight explained that entry-level employees often have trouble keeping low-wage hourly jobs, even when they are qualified for the work. He explained they face challenges in managing their lives and their jobs, problems that their employers may not be aware of or familiar with.
The Tool kit suggests policies and strategies to promote retention and overcome challenges for both parties.
"It's a la carte. So someone could come to only one of the sessions if they have something else going on," Knight said.
He encouraged all the attendees to attend the lunch if possible.
"We need to get educators and business leaders together more often," he said.
The summit will offer free admission, but registration is required. To register, visit richlandareachamber.com.