There is an effort underway to build a work-based learning program that would serve community youth and provide them the opportunity to gain hands-on learning opportunities with local businesses.
Mark Feest introduced the idea of the program this week at the Churchill Economic Development Authority Business Council breakfast. “With the introduction of Churchill Fallon Economic Development (CFED), both CEDA and the CEDA Business Council re-evaluated their purpose,” he said. “As CFED focuses on attracting new businesses to Churchill County, CEDA has pivoted to solely focus on supporting existing businesses with startup and expansion services. The CEDA Business Council, which is made up of local businesses, has shifted its primary focus to workforce development through partnering with CCSD, WNC, Oasis Academy, and various state and federal programs.”
Summer Stephens, Churchill County School District Superintendent spoke about the Work-based Learning program, saying she and Sara Beebe, CEDA’s Operations Director, have been working with Rochelle Tisdale at Oasis Academy, and Holly O’Toole at Western Nevada College to develop the details. “The state goal is for students to receive credit for the work-based programs beginning in the 2022-23 school year.” This school year, students will receive credit for their experiences, but the following year the program will allow them to be “completers” of the Career Pathways.
Organizers are working through the liability issues and working with local area businesses to identify work-based opportunities. There is a website called the Nevada Career Explorer Hub where students as young as 4th grade are introduced to a personal inventory tool, a career builder portal, and a list of local training and job opportunities: nv.headed2.com.
The school staff involved will work to place students from the various career pathway programs into paid and unpaid internships or apprenticeships with local companies. The students will be prepared with workplace readiness skills as well as specific skills from the available local school programs; ag mechanics, animal science, automotive technology, computer science, construction technology, furniture and cabinetry, culinary arts, cybersecurity, diesel technology, drafting and design, emergency medical technician, medical assisting, nursing assisting, teaching and training, video production, multi-media communication, welding, and military science.
CEDA will work with local businesses, connecting them to the NV Career Explorer Hub website as well, provide connections between businesses and the schools, and present the orientation and learning opportunities for businesses to work with youth.
Local businesses and companies willing to participate in the work-based learning program should be ready to complete the intake information with CEDA where they can identify how they would like to participate from committees to grow the program or mentor students, host tours and field trips, provide the onsite training opportunities, and remote training opportunities. “We are looking for the local business community to engage student employees and other students with the goal of growing our own for their business and the community as a whole,” said Beebe.
Feest said one frustration in attracting business to the community has been the shortages of an available workforce. “We hear from our constituents that expansion opportunities are missed due to a lack of qualified employees,” he said. “The Business Council will be the main repository and source of help that will allow businesses to take advantage of various programs ranging from job shadowing to paid internships. We will coordinate the funding opportunities, business participation, dual credit for students, and generally make the connection between the schools, programs, and businesses.”
Businesses interested in becoming involved in the work-based learning program, and that may be willing to provide internship and apprenticeship programs should contact Sara Beebe at CEDA, 423-8587.