The Results Are In: Workforce Advisory Council Gains New Perspective

 

Members of the Workforce Advisory Council met last Friday to brainstorm how to best help students prepare to enter the workforce and how local businesses can help. 

The Workforce Advisory Council, developed through both the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce and the West Chester Area School District’s collaborative efforts, was established earlier this year in an attempt to provide Pennsylvania students access to high quality academic and technical education, opportunities to assess interests, build skills, and identify and explore careers aligned with those interests and skills. The council maintains that, regardless of post-secondary plans, all students should leave secondary education with a solid foundation in career education and work.

The meeting began with a presentation by Donna Foley, Career Education Counselor from the West Chester Area School District, of her findings from multiple surveys completed by current and former students, as well as local businesses. Her survey to students found that they wish they had received more help with post-secondary options based on their interests and achievements. Of those 208 responses, 66% stated they could have used more planning for post-secondary options, and 54% wish they understood how their skills and interests match with career options.

In the survey Foley sent to local businesses, she found an overwhelming majority of them eager to help students explore and develop their career interests via business showcases, job shadowing, mentorships, internships, guest speakers and more.

“I want people to understand that this isn’t a school initiative – this is a community initiative,” said Foley. “Pennsylvania’s economic future depends on having a well-educated workforce that is prepared to meet the demands of a global, knowledge-based 21st century economy. How can we expect our economy to bloom without preparing our future workforce?”

After the presentation, members broke into groups to brainstorm how they might pitch ideas, such as internships and job shadowing, to local businesses to make the program as simple as possible for businesses to integrate.

Notable figures in attendance included West Chester Area School District Superintendent Jim Scanlon and Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Yoder.

“It was very eye-opening,” Yoder said of Friday’s meeting. “It was great to pinpoint how our students feel they were prepared or unprepared. It makes it that much easier for us to connect with businesses in the community on how to solve this problem.”

 

For more information on the West Chester Area School District, please visit: https://www.wcasd.net/