W.Va. Economic Development Council discusses workforce solutions in Oglebay | News, Sports, Jobs

ADDRESSING LABOR ISSUES – Amelia Courts, CEO of the Education Alliance, explains how her organization can help labor issues in West Virginia during a panel at the conference West Virginia Economic Development Council Fall Session at Wilson Lodge in Oglebay. -Derek Redd

WHEELING – The jobs are there for the people who want them, say economic development experts. The challenge these days, however, is finding enough people to fill those vacancies.

Attendees at this week’s West Virginia Economic Development Council fall conference spent part of their Wednesday morning at Wilson Lodge in Oglebay Park discussing ways to find the right people to hire for those vacancies. . They also heard from a number of organizations whose work it is to help build this workforce.

Members of this panel on Navigating Workforce Solutions included Amelia Courts, President and CEO of the Education Alliance and Olivia McCuskey, Director of Strategic Engagement, Kelly Coffin, Jobs and Hope Transition Officer David Rogers, Senior Director of Training Programs for the West Virginia Department of Economic Development. and Robert Yahn of Tecnocap of Glen Dale, which manufactures metal closures.

An important way to get young people on the right path to the profession they want is to give them practical experience in that profession. the courts have said that, according to studies, personal experience is the main factor influencing young people to choose a career.

This opportunity must be fair to all students, she said. Courts’ two children are both in college and have gotten a big head start on their future careers thanks to the pairing. Courts and her husband made phone calls and let her children drive to these businesses. But not all children are so lucky.

“How can we create experiences during a school day that are more accessible to all of our students? » she asked.

McCuskey described the Educational Alliance’s work-based learning program. This is a one-semester course that takes internship components and puts them in a classroom setting, and also includes a capstone project. This eliminates barriers such as lack of transportation, lack of home broadband access, or not living in a major metropolitan area.

“It’s really important because it then gives a wide variety of career experiences and career awareness,” McCuskey said.

The West Virginia government also offers assistance to businesses that want to strengthen training for their employees. The Governor’s Guaranteed Workforce Program provides new or expanding businesses with funding and technical assistance to support effective employee training strategies. The program targets a company’s entire workforce, where they can train, retrain and upgrade their skills.

Rogers also said any company interested in the program won’t be bogged down with paperwork to apply.

“I would say the Governor’s Guaranteed Labor Program will be the easiest application you’ll ever fill out for the state,” he said. “It’s right up there with a hunting license.”

Some people in West Virginia want to join or improve their status in the workforce, but past substance abuse may have stood in their way. This is where a program like Jobs and Hope can help. Jobs and Hope provides free training and educational opportunities for people recovering from drug addiction through adult education, community and technical colleges, vocational and technical colleges, National Guard West Virignia and other state agencies. Jobs and Hope can also help provide access to the resources needed to remove these barriers to employment.

“We are trying to introduce second-chance and fair employment in many companies in the state,” said Coffin. “The way we do it is to partner with various companies across the state and say, hey, we’re a peer development program that works with people who are really ready to enter the workforce. “

Having so many resources available is key to helping West Virginia businesses find the right people to hire, said Josh Jefferson, president and CEO of Regional Economic Development Partnership. What Jefferson enjoyed about Wednesday morning’s discussion, and the fall conference in general, is that it will give organizations like his own crucial information that they can take back to their respective business communities and put them on the right track.

“Not everyone will have a one-stop shop”, Jefferson said, “but what we can do is connect them with the resources we have. When we go back to our communities and our major employers and small businesses and they say these are the struggles we have and these are the challenges, we can say, let me introduce these people to you and put them in front of the right people so they can have that opportunity.

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