Rutherford County Chamber Looking for Career Pathway Partners

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Photo from Rutherford Works Facebook

Back in the fall of 2015, the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce began a program to partner local businesses with Rutherford County Schools and Murfreesboro City Schools to help students and educators better understand the world of work through career exploration activities, introduction to employment skills and providing students with opportunities to transition from high school to technical school or college and into the 21st-century workplace. They are looking for additional Industry Partners to join in this project and for current partners to sign up now to participate again next year. 

There are 16 career and technical career paths created by the Tennessee Department of Education. They are Advanced Manufacturing; Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; Architecture and Construction; Arts, ATV Technology and Communications; Business Management and Administration; Education and Training; Finance; Government and Public Administration; Health Science; Hospitality and Tourism; Human Services; Information Technology; Law, Public Safety, Corrections and Security; Marketing, Distribution and Logistics; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics; and Transportation. Industry Partners sign up within one of these categories.

The goal of having partnerships with businesses in these career pathways is to allow them to help design career programs for high school students, provide speakers and hands-on experiences for middle school students, and even activities that introduce careers to younger children. The first programs were created in four categories – Advanced Manufacturing; Health Sciences; Technology; and Architecture and Construction. They were addressed first because of the high demand for workers in these areas. And there is still a strong demand for workers in these areas, with the most notable business partner-initiated program being the mechatronics program at Oakland High School, which is also available at Rockvale High School. Marketing, Distribution and Logistics has been added to the group to create the “Hot Five.” 

Since the beginning of the program, more and more businesses have come on board, providing a growing number of interactions between their businesses, kids and educators. Now a part of Rutherford Works, these programs fall under the Workforce Development Division of the Economic Development arm of the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce.

Currently, there are partners in every category except Government and Public Administration. Programs range from guest speaking to career fairs to internships that have led to full-time jobs and additional paid training in high demand areas.

Robert Benton with Business System Solutions Inc., an IT solutions company, was an early adopter of the program. He told why he believes in the partnership program, “It’s a great opportunity for [students] to see what it means to be at a company and involved in real-world activities. We started an internship with Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) where we were bringing in students and showing them how we run the business day-to-day – everything from interacting with customers and creating work tickets to problem solving. The feedback that we got from those interns was not only beneficial to them, but also beneficial to us. We were even able to hire some of them full time.”

Programs have also been developed for teachers. About 80% of teachers have never worked outside the classroom, and teacher programs allow them to understand how classroom lessons apply in the real world. 

To learn more about how to get involved as a Business Partner, contact Rutherford Works here.

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