In January 2024, we hosted the annual State of YOUR Chamber, updating members and the community on our efforts to champion business growth and business prosperity throughout Union County.
Attracting and retaining a skilled workforce is the number one challenge facing businesses of all sizes in our community, particularly in high-demand industries like advanced manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, and the trades.
Workforce Development Task Force
The mission of the Workforce Development Task Force is to convene business, educational institutions, and workforce development organizations to attract, develop, and retain our community’s most important asset – our people. Our goal is to meet the talent needs of business and industry now and in the future.
The Task Force identified three priorities for the work we are doing:
- » Developing young people’s interest in the trades and manufacturing by including parents, guardians, and educators in the process and introducing these potential career pathways at an earlier age.
- » Recruiting and developing the skills needed for high-demand careers in industry sectors driving our community’s economy.
- » Addressing durable skills (or soft skills) by consistently including this messaging in our programs and outreach.
The Workforce Development Task Force is unique in that its members consist of leaders from education partners, workforce development organizations and business and industry, bringing these stakeholders together in a collaborative environment with a focus on results.
Our education partners include Union County Public Schools, South Piedmont Community College, Wingate University. We partner with workforce development organizations like NC Works and Centralina Workforce Development Board. We also partner with important community partners like the Union County Human Resources Association, Alliance for Children, and Our Future in UNiSON, a local educational attainment collaborative.
We bring a wide variety of business and industry partners committed to developing a future pipeline.
Middle School Speakers Bureau
One of the highlights of the work this committee does is the Middle School Speakers Bureau. Middle school students are more focused on career exploration which aligns with our priority to develop young people’s interest in trades and manufacturing.
The Speakers Bureau is a partnership between the Career and Technical Education Department at UCPS and the Task Force. CTE Director Brian Davis is a valued member of the Task Force. His team chooses 2-3 middle schools and sets five dates during the school year at each school. The Task Force recruits business and industry leaders to do classroom presentations. The speakers commit to “take over” the classroom for the day, with an engaging presentation that includes information about their company, their industry, career progression and salary potential. The task force conducts a training session for the speakers. The speakers are required to include a hands-on activity related to their business or industry.
After the speakers’ presentations, the students are asked to complete a survey to provide feedback about the presentation. The most recent surveys indicated 95% of the students stated they learned something they didn’t know about the career opportunities available here in Union County.
Here are some of the comments the students left:
- » “They’re amazing people and I’m considered being one of them because of their presentation.”
- » “The sample lesson was interesting and interactive. I learned a large variety of facts about design and modeling.”
- » “I think it’s cool how they taught me how to build a building.”
- » “I recommend they do that in more schools.”
This project will help support the new career plan legislation that goes into effect in North Carolina next that requires the schools and the students to create a career path as part of their education.
Make It In Union County
Another program for this committee is Make It in Union County. This is the Chamber’s manufacturing awareness program which celebrated its 10th year in 2023. Each year, the Chamber, in partnership with Union County Public Schools, South Piedmont Community College, and local manufacturers, hosts field trips, open house tours, and speakers in classrooms throughout our community. This year Make It in Union County reached a record of over 1,500 students.
Chamber Jobs Site
In 2023, the Chamber refreshed its jobs site to make it easier for our members to post open positions on the Chamber’s website. The Chamber’s jobs site is available to all chamber members at no additional cost. Last year, the Chamber promoted the jobs site weekly on all its social media platforms to drive more job seeker traffic to the site.
In addition to these programs, the Chamber partners with other community organizations to host the annual Union County Job Fair. 2023 was the largest one yet, with a 25% increase in attendance. We also participate in Our Future in UNiSON and collaborate extensively with other initiatives throughout the county. The Workforce Development Task Force has also worked closely with the Chamber’s Public Policy Committee to assist in developing the Chamber’s focus on workforce development as a guiding principle in the Chamber’s legislative agenda.
If you are interested in learning more about the Workforce Development Task Force or the Middle Schools Speakers Bureau, email email@example.com
Last modified: January 26, 2024