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Partnering for workforce development

Posted on Wednesday, May 29, 2024 at 8:05 am

From Staff Reports

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The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Motlow State Community College, TCAT-Shelbyville, and the Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership participated in a webinar covering TVA’s seven-state footprint.

The webinar presented how those entities partner for workforce development. The webinars reach community stakeholders across the TVA service area and help decision-makers better understand strategies they can deploy to impact their communities positively.

The webinar highlighted Bedford County’s workforce development ecosystem as a successful model of collaboration between economic developers (the Partnership), educators (Motlow and TCAT), and employers.

TVA recognized the Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership’s ability to play an essential role in the growth and prosperity of Shelbyville and Bedford County. Months of work between the Partnership, TVA, and Guidehouse (the webinar host) culminated in an assessment that the Partnership’s workforce development programming was a prime example of what workforce development should look like.

Shane Hooper, CEO of the Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership said, “For our community, addressing workforce challenges requires a multifaceted approach that includes investing in our adult population and the next generation of workers from Bedford County K-12. The Partnership& No. 39’s proactive involvement with local businesses and industry allows them to identify current challenges, forecast future needs, and provide solutions.”

Hooper added that our local businesses need solutions to compete, innovate, and grow. The Shelbyville- Bedford Partnership drives workforce development through collaboration between industry and education in programming, such as the Annual Career Exploration Fair, Innovative Career Opportunity Network (ICON) Program, and the Shelbyville-Bedford High School Job Fair.

The workforce development project under the direction of Kelly North has determined over half of Bedford County students enter the workforce upon high school graduation. Their education and training must be practical, rigorous, and aligned to industry needs and student abilities. Over 650 Bedford County eighth-graders identify their aptitudes and interests yearly through the Bedford County K-12 system. Then, the Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership’s Annual Career Exploration Fair connects them to local opportunities.

Hooper and North also talked about the ICON program. ICON is Bedford County School’s initiative to empower local students with real-world, paid work experiences that align with their career aspirations and future goals. Currently, thirty-three local high school students are working at twenty companies. The American Job Center’s Summer Youth Employment Grant (SYEP) supports the students’ salaries, providing local employers with a payroll cost savings of $62,500 in less than a year—many thanks to Mayor Chad Graham for informing the Partnership staff of the SYEP grant opportunity.

Another collaborative program is the Shelbyville-Bedford High School Job Fair. Four-hundred students and over twenty employers across all industry sectors participate annually. This half-day hiring event gives local employers unique opportunities to evaluate, recruit, and hire talented senior students ready to enter the workforce.

The Partnership & No. 39’s workforce development programs provide hands-on opportunities to identify potential candidates, develop future leaders, and influence the post-secondary curriculum. For a more personalized approach to workforce development, the Partnership offers consulting services to employers to identify skills gaps, provide relevant labor market information, navigate internship and work-based learning program development, and access state funding. The Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership is dedicated to connecting industries with educational institutions at all levels and offering valuable resources to support the workforce needs of local employers.