Powering the Workforce

On May 12, the Venango Chamber hosted a virtual soft launch of VenangoREADY, a program designed to assist educators to better prepare students for the workplace.

The Chamber partnered with Centre County’s Chamber who has already successfully implemented the program. More than 100 educators, Leadership Venango participants, and business representatives participated in the soft launch via Zoom.

Matt Laverde, Assistant Director of IU6, arranged for educators to receive Act 48 continuing education credits for participating. Oil City, Franklin, Cranberry, Titusville, Forest, and Valley Grove were all represented.

Susan Williams, President & CEO of the Chamber, has made connecting educators and businesses a priority in the strategic plan of the Chamber, and the Chamber’s Education Committee.

“There is no more commonly shared challenge in business than finding and retaining work-ready candidates for open positions,” she said. “While we all know and understand the importance of work ethic, we haven’t developed common language and markers for communicating a candidate has demonstrated those characteristics most sought by businesses.”

Susan invited Vern Squier, President & CEO of the Centre County Chamber, to give a comprehensive overview of the program, outlining all six attributes that educators need to be promoting to shape a successful workforce:

  • Work Ethic
  • Tactfulness & Manners
  • Communication
  • Team Work
  • Critical Thinking & Problem Solving
  • Understanding Supervision & World of Work

Kelly Lander from Pepro and Ryan Bell from Webco voiced support for the program and agreed it would benefit the entire community. Pepro and Webco will lead the way by offering interviews to students with VenangoREADY designation.

All Venango County businesses are invited to lend support of the program and encouraged to let the Chamber know if they can be included as employers who value the six traits. VenangoREADY supporting businesses can support educators by allowing business tours, providing classroom speakers, and being a partner in sharing the message of VenangoREADY.

Stephanie Keebler, Titusville School District Superintendent, looks forward to adopting VenangoREADY to provide consistency to educators and students throughout the county. Educators will appreciate having direction, as well as a common language and curriculum to give validity to what is being done in the classroom.

Heather Motter, teacher at Cranberry High School, shared ideas for practical application in the classroom. She has been excited about offering VenangoREADY in her classroom since she first learned about it at a Chamber education meeting.

“I truly believe that this is the hook that educators have been looking for. We will finally be able to present a unified program supported by the educational and workforce community,” Heather said. “I had no idea how much we were in need of this program until I participated in Teacher in the Workplace last year and heard how much our students are lacking the skills promoted by VenangoREADY. It is crucial as we continue to develop our 21st century workforce that educators and business leaders agree that this partnership is vital to our community.”

The presentations on May 12 ended with a Q&A session and prize giveaway. All of the educators were entered to win a gift card from an area business to purchase classroom supplies.

More information about VenangoREADY will be shared at soon.

The Chamber will also be starting a monthly email newsletter to connect education and business, which will feature information between schools and businesses, upcoming events (such as job fairs and mock interviews), funding opportunities, and more.

This article was published in the Venango Chamber’s June 2020 VenangoWorks! Newsletter

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