Workforce development programs introduce students to career alternatives


DARKE COUNTY — Partnering for Progress is adding several new initiatives this year in its efforts to bring together students and businesses to develop a skilled and dependable workforce, as well as show students that their options for the future are far more wide-ranging than they might have believed.

Manufacturing Day is not a new program this year, but Darke County will continue its participation in the nationwide program that celebrates modern manufacturing and is meant to introduce and inspire the next generation of workers to a whole new range of career options.

This year in Darke County, all of the sophomores from eight school districts will be touring one of eight different businesses on Oct. 2.

“We want to give them an accurate perception of manufacturing in 2015,” said Lisa Wendel, Career Pathway Coordinator at Darke County Economic Development.

Junior Job Shadow week will be Nov. 9-13, when interested juniors have the opportunity to spend half a school day job shadowing in an area that interests them.

Stepping Up to the Plate is a program that helps match juniors and seniors with businesses for paid internships. The program is just starting out with six to eight students.

Presentations will be offered to sophomores after the first of the year to help make them aware of the variety of programs and training that will be available to them as they start considering their career path.

In early spring, Partnering for Progress is planning a Career Fair, for seniors who are planning to go directly into the workforce after high school.

In April will be an awards presentation for the “20 Under 20,” recognizing those students and their mentors who have been working on a workforce initiative program. Students and the companies that work with them will be nominated by their schools. This is a joint effort with Mercer County.

A significant part of the Partnering for Progress workforce development effort continues to be the Hometown Opportunity website, which has added features and functionality to become a true “one-stop shop” for workers and potential workers, students, employers and educators to find each other and serve their career path needs.

The site not only hosts listings for full-time and contract work for adults, but also includes part-time work, internships and job shadow opportunities for students. There are business profiles, informational videos and help in finding the appropriate training needed for a given job.

The site is limited to businesses and organizations in Darke, Mercer and Auglaize County, so jobs and training available are truly “hometown.” Students and potential employees from anywhere may use the site, however.

“It’s not just for workforce development,” said Marc Saluk, Darke County Economic Development Director. “It’s also workforce attraction.”

Saluk said he wants the site to have everything possible to show potential workers and outside elsewhere that Darke County has a lot of opportunities for growth and development. He said he also wants college students who are out of the area to see that they can come home to career opportunities.

By Rachel Lloyd

[email protected]

Reach the writer at 937-569-4354 or on Twitter @RachelLloydGDA.

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