The Champaign Economic Partnership (CEP) and Champaign County schools and businesses are working together in several ways to help local employers meet their workforce needs and prepare students for rewarding careers.
“To succeed in the marketplace, local employers need more qualified candidates for job openings and to replace retiring employees,” said CEP Director Marcia Bailey. “To accomplish this, we’re working to better prepare students for these opportunities.”
She added, “By developing a strong workforce, we set up our community for growth and economic success, attracting new businesses and enabling existing businesses to grow and create jobs.”
Workforce development is a major focus of the CEP, she said. Following are examples of how the CEP and its partners are strengthening the local workforce:
· CEP business liaison: The CEP and Ohio Hi-Point Career Center created this part-time position with the financial support of the Champaign County Human Resources Manufacturers Council, DP&L, Clark State Community College and FASTLANE.
Business Liaison Ashley Cook, who teaches Ohio Hi-Point Career Center’s Supply Chain Management program at Urbana High School, coordinates activities that bring schools, students and businesses together throughout Champaign County. This includes job fairs, in-school presentations by businesses and spreading the word about internships, job shadowing opportunities and job openings.
Nancee Starkey, human resources generalist at Bundy Baking Solutions, said that Cook helped her set up presentations at Graham, Urbana and Triad high schools. She added that a few Graham seniors are working second shift at Bundy while they finish their studies.
· Manufacturing videos: Cook is overseeing creation of videos that feature local manufacturers and their employees to show students and others the skilled, high-tech jobs available locally. So far, videos have been produced for Bundy Baking Solutions, the Hall Company, Orbis Corporation, Rittal, Ultra-met and Weidmann Electrical Technology. The videos can be viewed on the Champaign Economic Partnership YouTube channel.
· Business Advisory Council: The CEP participates in the Champaign County Business Advisory Council, which brings schools and businesses together to develop curriculum to help students gain skills needed for in-demand careers.
· Ohio Hi-Point Career Center Programs at Local Schools: This includes the Advanced Manufacturing Program in its third year at Triad Local Schools. This program will be added at Urbana and Graham high schools in the next school year to help prepare students for manufacturing careers and advanced training.
Ohio Hi-Point has offered its Biomedical program at Graham High School since 2005 and will be working more closely with Mercy Health – Urbana Hospital, said Debbie Wortman, Ohio Hi-Point satellite director. Ohio Hi-Point also offers Informational Technology at Graham, covering interactive media, coding and programming, and Supply Chain Management at Urbana High School.
· Internships: More local manufacturers are offering students internships. Janet Ruhe, human resources representative at Orbis Corporation in Urbana, said that an Urbana University student has begun a materials internship at the company. Another Urbana University student who interned there last year was hired after graduation to work as a marketing and sales representative in Orbis’s corporate office.
Ruhe added that Triad High School graduate Zack Zizzo, who was in the Ohio Hi-Point Advanced Manufacturing program, is now working at Orbis as a paid intern while he completes the two-year mechanical engineering technology program at Clark State Community College – with tuition assistance from Orbis. He will continue working at Orbis after he graduates in June.
Ruhe said that Orbis met Zizzo at a local Manufacturing Day event where he presented a 3D printing project he worked on at Triad.
· Job Signing Ceremonies: To celebrate interns joining local companies, the CEP is partnering with the companies to hold signing ceremonies, similar to those that colleges have for student athletes who join their programs. Ceremonies will soon be held for two interns at Bundy Baking Solutions and one at Orbis Corporation, while more will be planned.
· Urbana University UrbanaWORKS Program: Urbana University, a branch campus of Franklin University, partners with area employers and chambers of commerce through the UrbanaWORKS program, which is designed to help strengthen the local workforce. Karen Chuvalas, UrbanaWORKS business development manager, said the partnership program offers businesses:
· A tuition discount for employees to continue their education, online at Franklin University
· Renewable scholarships for children of employees to attend Urbana University full time
Also, Urbana University is working with employers to:
· Create internships and co-op programs to give students practical work experience and to help businesses find good employees
· Develop curriculum to prepare students for manufacturing technologies
· Provide on-site and online education programs customized to meet their workforce training needs
· Community Job Connect: This online job board, developed by the CEP, allows Champaign County employers to post jobs at communityjobconnect.com. The CEP will be updating the site and moving it onto the CEP website, CEPOhio.com.
Submitted by Champaign Economic Partnership.