Partnerships in Alabama Expose Students to Industry Mentors, Potential Jobs

May 19, 2016

Local chambers take great strides to create partnerships between businesses and schools, providing exposure to careers and a lasting connection among collaborators. To provide educational opportunities for students and increase their awareness of in-demand industries, the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce initiated the Partners-In-Education program, linking the business community to 47 schools across 3 counties, as well as a technical-focused summer camp for young women.

The business-education partnerships increase understanding of the quality and needs of the public school system, as each partnership is tailored to the specific needs of the school. Companies in the area have benefitted from the direct linkage to future employees and customers.

One such company is Renasant Bank; through the Partners-In-Education program, Renasant employees mentored students from Eastwood Elementary in weekly 30-minute sessions. The mentoring sessions have been a “win-win,” as these relationships are mutually favorable; when parents and teachers see a business supporting their school, they want to support that business in return. Renasant Bank has had a tremendous experience with the partnership, prompting the company to expand its involvement with additional volunteers and time spent on the reading sessions.

The Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce pioneered another initiative, the Summer Welding & Electrical Technology (SWeETy) Camp for 9th to 12th grade girls. The Chamber partnered with nearby Calhoun Community College to establish this free camp, which provides hands-on experiences in welding and electricity. Students develop problem-solving skills and experience how to work in a team as they participate in instructor-led projects, field trips, and interact with role models during industry-sponsored lunches.

This summer, 23 girls will participate, all guaranteed to walk away with newfound opportunities and confidence, and even an opportunity to get hired in the industry. Since the SWeETy camp’s inception, participating companies have hired several girls from the program as full-time employees.

The Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce is helping ensure its local businesses will be able to fill in-demand positions with well-qualified candidates from the local education system. Initiatives like the Partners-In-Education program and the SWeETy Camp allow local industries to tap into their greatest resource: students.