The Cleveland/Bradley County area is home to 12 Fortune 500 companies with a workforce that Richard Appeldoorn, general manager at Schering-Plough, finds most impressive.
“I see a strong work ethic manifested here,” he says. “Our people apply themselves, and they work very, very hard.”
The community, however, is not content to maintan the status quo. A well-trained, motivated workforce is key to the continued growth of our community, so much effort is going into maintaining and improving one of our area’s strengths—its workforce. The Chamber’s Workforce Development Program brings business and education together in programs designed to enhance and develop the labor force necessary to meet the challenges of today’s business climate and tomorrow’s technological advancements.
The Chamber’s Education & Workforce Development Committee manages several long-range workforce development programs in cooperation with our local public schools:
Tennessee Scholars—A rewards-and-recognition program that encourages students to complete a more rigorous course of study in high school. Tennessee Scholars is a business-led program coordinated by the Chamber and geared at the middle 50 percent of students. It is centered upon course completion rather than simply grade-point average. Requirements outside of the enhanced curriculum include 80 hours of volunteer service in the community and a minimum of 95 percent school attendance. Students in the program benefit from scholarship opportunities and preferential hiring at some local businesses.
Business/Industry in the Classroom—Employees from local businesses and industries teach a 45-minute class in grades 9-12. Their objective is to relate to students the importance of basic employability skills to their future. Employees gain a better understanding about teaching students workplace requirements.
Job Shadowing—High school juniors learn about careers by “shadowing” people actually involved in them. Workplace hosts show students what they do and talk about the knowledge and skills required to succeed in today’s workplace, particularly the job being “shadowed.” The ultimate goal is to give students information and experience needed to make smarter career choices.
Teachers Academy—Teachers participate in a four-week, on-site project in an area business/industry during the summer. By working on a special project or shadowing throughout the company, the teacher will “experience” business while providing a service to the business/industry. The goal is to impact classroom teaching through exposure to skills necessary to perform well in the workplace.
Ethics in the Workplace—A program that brings local business and education professionals into high school classrooms to speak about work ethics and ethical conduct in general. The program is a response to area business/industry concerns about the declining work ethic among some younger employees. The seminars complement character education programs coordinated by local school systems.
Reality Check—All area eighth-grade students are introduced to household budgeting, the incomes associated with various occupations, and the relationship between education and earnings by participating in a real-life budgeting exercise. In the activity, students are assigned a career and family situation. They then go to stations manned by business volunteers who sell them goods and services to provide for their family. This program is a partnership of the Chamber of Commerce and Junior Achievement of the Ocoee Region and complements JA's Personal Economics program.
Cleveland/Bradley Youth Leadership—This seven-month program is designed to provide an opportunity for high school juniors and seniors to develop leadership skills and gain a better understanding of the local community. Participants are selected through an application process. Applications must be turned into the respective school's guidance office to be submitted to the Chamber with a current transcript. A steering committee reviews all applications and makes final selections. Click here to download an application for the 2013-2014 class.
BEST Partnerships (Business & Education Serving Together)—This program unites the efforts of the business/industry sector and local school systems to forge partnerships that involve a commitment of time, energy and expertise between a business and a selected public school. Each partnership is designed to benefit both business and education through available resources.
Many area education partners stand ready to assist employers/employees in workforce training and other business developments, including