Best Practices
December 3, 2008

Greater Spokane Incorporated Launches Career Awareness Campaign

Greater Spokane Incorporated

In the changing American job market, math and science are becoming highly-coveted skills. Yet, there is decreased interest and abilities in these subjects in recent years, and students are continually entering the workforce underprepared. Business and education leaders in Spokane, Washington, through the roundtable series at Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI), have begun to work on a concerted effort to reverse this trend. As the regional chamber of commerce and economic development organization, GSI is a natural convening entity for industry-focused groups.

Thus, the Career Awareness Campaign was born. The GSI-led campaign aims to stress the importance of these basic foundation skills in preparation for highly-skilled, highly-paid careers. It focuses on educating students, educators, and parents about career and training opportunities available in the region. This campaign disseminates materials, including booklets, brochures, and websites, focusing on the high-growth, high-demand industries of allied health, aerospace, business & professional services, manufacturing, and construction. An educator-focused component to the campaign, the Teaching the Teachers workshops, have provided 7-12 grade educators paid clock-hours to learn about careers available to students in the identified industries and how their curriculum directly correlates to the skills needed for these jobs. In short, the campaign seeks to answer the question teachers often hear students ask, "Why do I have to learn this?"

The regional goal of the campaign is to reach the 36,000 7-12 graders in Spokane County, through presentations to students, principals, counselors, and teachers in junior and senior high schools. Through this campaign, more than 2,500 principals, counselors, and teachers will receive the career awareness materials for their reference and distribution to students. Finally, an online survey was designed to assess impact of the program on students' career choices. As a result, GSI has received the Association of Washington Business Community Service award in the category of education two years in a row.

"We have seen an increase in the number of industry representatives who attend school board meetings, participate in policy discussions surrounding K-12 education, and who make the extra effort to connect with our local K-12 system," says Amy Johnson, Vice President, Workforce Development & Public Policy, Greater Spokane Incorporated. "We're elated with the campaign so far and think this strategy could be highly replicable in other communities."