Clint Kolby, Project Manager at Brenham (Texas) Economic Development Foundation, (population 16,000) shared this story at the recent LCRA Economic Development Forum where I was a speaker, and I knew you’d want to hear it, too.
Through our Business Retention & Expansion Program (BREP) we were able to identify that the strongest and weakest aspect of doing business in Brenham is our workforce. On one hand, businesses feel that Brenham has a very loyal and skilled workforce. On the other hand, the lack of available skilled workers was a major constraint whenever they considered expanding their operations.
|A student receiving training at the Hodde Tech. |
Ed. Center, in Brenham, Texas.
A Workforce Maximization Group was created, which consists of representatives from the Brenham Economic Development Foundation, the Director of the A.W. Hodde Jr. Technical Education Center at Blinn College, the Career & Technical Education Director with Brenham ISD [Independent School District], and the Guidance Counselor with Burton ISD, to find a solution to help local companies get the skilled workers they need to grow and succeed. One of the ideas from the group was to target graduating seniors from the Brenham and Burton High Schools who are entering straight into the workforce and provide them with the advanced training they need from the Hodde Tech. Ed. Center so that they will be ready to find a job with a local company.
|The Hodde Tech. Ed. Center|
To begin the process of targeting these students, we sent out a career survey to all graduating seniors to determine who is going to a 4-year university, a 2-year college, a trade or technical school, or entering straight into the workforce and also to figure out what industries they would like to work in as a career. We also reached out to the local business community to find out who was hiring, and if so, what type and how many jobs they were looking to hire.
After we receive the surveys from the students and businesses, the plan is to hold a “mini” career fair to help match those students with a business according to their career interest. If a business decides they would like to hire one of the students, the Hodde Tech. Ed. Center would be a part of an after-school program to provide the advanced training the student would need to work for that particular company. The goal is to have the student trained and ready to work upon graduation from high school.
If your town doesn’t have a project to connect kids with existing jobs, you’re missing a big opportunity. The graduating high school students who aren’t planning to go to college won’t just automatically find out what jobs are available and what skills they really need. This is one example of a way to guide them.
Thanks to Clint Kolby and the Brenham (Texas) Economic Development Foundation for sharing it with us.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.