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Future Workforce Critical for Future Business Success

How is the Grand Junction Chamber helping businesses in the Valley address their many workforce needs? Realizing that a skilled workforce is our most valuable resource for existing businesses and those wishing to expand, we have several efforts underway.

The Mesa County Business Education Foundation, a stand-alone foundation created by the Chamber almost twenty years ago, has as its purpose “to assist and support all education in Mesa County.” The Foundation’s primary method of doing that is through creating more avenues for interaction and support between businesses and schools.

In August the Foundation has two major events planned. The first is Jump Start Week, a multi-day effort to help students get back in the learning mindset when school starts. 

On Monday, August 13, high school students throughout the Valley will have the chance to increase their reading speed and comprehension by taking the Fred Pryor Speed Reading Course. This one-day seminar, which can cost up to $200 per attendee, will help prepare students for the reading workloads which grow increasingly heavier as their educations continue.  Class is limited to 100 students and registration at the Chamber is required.

On Tuesday, August 14, elementary students are invited to come out to Lincoln Park for a morning of interactive hands-on learning activities. Over 15 community organizations will have exhibits and games along with parent information on how their kids can continue their learning outside school hours. The event runs from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM.

On August 29, the Foundation will honor the 500 Plan volunteers from the 2011-2012 school year. These are people who have given one hour per week of their time to work with a partially-proficient third-, fourth- or fifth-grader on their reading skills.  Test results have proven that this plan works in School District 51. Students who work with a volunteer have increased their test scores more than  peers not in the program. New this year, the breakfast celebration will also honor employers who have allowed employees to volunteer on company time and feature student testimonials. If your workplace is interested in more information please contact Diane at the Chamber.

In addition to the Foundation, a new Chamber committee, the Future Workforce Committee, was started to begin closing the gap between the student experience and the worker experience. Top areas of focus for the committee are career exploration for elementary and middle school students and the integration of soft skills into the learning experiences of high school students. Soft skills include the “people skills” like taking responsibility for one’s actions, problem solving, working well with others, and knowing how to conduct oneself in the workplace.

The committee is in the process of formulating sustainable plans and programs to implement career exploration activities and soft skill training for area students. Anyone interested in serving on the committee and assisting with these efforts is urged to call Diane at the Chamber, 970.263.2915

Diane Schwenke has been the President/CEO of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce since 1989. She can be reached at 970-242-3214 or by email at diane@gjchamber.org.
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