The Indiana County Chamber of Commerce continues to be committed to workforce development as well as creating community partnerships. One of those partnerships involves students at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). The Chamber is helping to spearhead two different initiatives that will engage students at the University in the development process. The Chamber’s University Relations Committee is working with team members at IUP in helping to develop a new student discount program that will improve business exposure to the students and increase student interaction with local businesses.
In addition, the group is also working on developing a contest for students involving local businesses. The concept would see local businesses identifying challenges that they are currently facing. Groups of students would then be responsible for researching, developing, and presenting a proposed solution to that problem with a large cash prize on the line for the winning presentation. Mark Hilliard, president of the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce said that initiatives such as these really fit into the mission of the Chamber and will help create collaboration between students and businesses.
“We have been actively looking for ways to engage the students in this county and have them become more involved in this community,” Hilliard stated. “Student-led initiatives like these are a tremendous way to accomplish this. And by creating this level of engagement we have a much greater opportunity to showcase the reasons why Indiana County is a great place for these students to live and work in following graduation.”
Hilliard indicated that they are hoping to do a soft roll-out of the discount program and have the contest ready to start both by Fall 2022.
The Chamber of Commerce is also working closely with students at the high school level through the Junior Chamber program. These students work with the Chamber’s Workforce Development Committee in helping to identify potential concerns and future opportunities as these young men and women prepare to enter the workforce. The Chamber has engaged with these students on a new initiative that will potentially identify job and internship opportunities. The students are working to create a digital job board with a social media component that will allow local businesses to post open positions as well as internship and job shadowing opportunities geared towards high school students. Hilliard says that this is the type of project that will help to enhance the career readiness of the students.
“The students are developing this concept in a manner that they feel will best be able to be utilized by their peers, which in turn will allow the businesses to share openings directly with our young people,” Hilliard said. “The more that we can get these students on the job site and experience the opportunities that are available in this county, the better prepared they will be for life beyond graduation.
The job board project is in the early development phase.