Education Attainment Division
Childcare Matters: Improving workforce compensation is the key to quality and availability
This post was authored by Mary Manner, Great Start Coordinator, TraverseCONNECT
A new article about child care seems to pop up in the news almost every week, focusing either on the high cost of care or the shortage of quality care, or both. At their core, these issues are two sides of the same coin and the currency is workforce compensation.
In my home state of Michigan, as in many other states, the decline in the number of child care providers is alarming (find your state’s info here). As economic conditions here have improved in the last five years the demand for quality child care has increased yet the supply is on the decline, especially for infants and toddlers. On average, thirty providers close their businesses every month, and the reason most often given is to seek better pay and benefits.
If workforce compensation is fundamental to increasing the supply of quality child care, what can Chambers do to have an impact? The first step is to recognize child care providers as professionals who deserve to earn a livable wage for the important work they do educating and nurturing our youngest citizens, and the second step is to understand how families pay for care.
Fortunately there are some resources we can look to for guidance. The T.E.A.C.H. program, administered by the T.E.A.C.H. National Center, provides support for child care providers who want to access higher education. A related program, WAGE$, is a wage-supplementation program designed to increase quality through higher educational attainment of providers. Both programs depend on significant public and private investment at the state level to achieve the goals of raising quality and establishing compensation parity between early care professionals and kindergarten/elementary educators. Find out what your state is doing to raise workforce compensation and how you can support the effort.
How families pay for child care is the flip side of compensation. With child care nearly as expensive as college tuition, quality care is already out of reach for many low- and middle-income working families. Raising prices enough to elevate wages is not an option, but there are other ways to capitalize the system.
One solution is to infuse more cash into the system by increasing the utilization of the child care subsidy. Eligibility for the subsidy, paid out of a combination of federal Child Care Development Funds (CCDF) and state funds, varies widely by state. The national goal is make subsidies available to families earning up to 85% of the state median income (find your state’s data here), however many states still have a long way to go to meet that goal.
Recently I asked several center directors to calculate the per-child cost of their programs. The results were disheartening. Providers are charging about forty percent of the actual cost of providing high quality care and making up the difference with summer camps for older children, corporate underwriting, and/or fundraising. Given this business model, it’s hard to see how this path could toward increasing workforce compensation and program sustainability without additional inputs.
Shared services is one promising approach to improving child care business practices and cutting administrative costs, thus freeing up time and money to improve program quality and compensation. The state of Texas has a put together an excellent review of how shared services works for child care. Chambers of commerce may be uniquely able to support local shared services initiatives and provide business expertise.
In my conversations with local child care providers, the one question that keeps coming up is why the Chamber doesn’t do more for them, yet few are chamber members. Maybe it’s the cost, or believing that membership is only for big businesses, or simply being too busy, as owner/operators, to participate. Whatever the reason, perhaps it’s time that we do more to reach out with support and encouragement. It will benefit all of us.
For more information feel free to contact Mary Manner
Changing the Job Search Process in Huntersville
This post was authored by Jill Swain, Executive Director, Huntersville (N.C.) Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center.
Huntersville, NC has been growing for nearly 30 years. Located north of Charlotte and at the crossroads of several active highways, Huntersville has positioned itself to be a hub for large business and corporate headquarters. Despite the success of bringing in a strong contingent of larger companies, Huntersville has seen downsizings and restructurings, and citizens sometimes look for employment elsewhere. We have underemployed experienced workers and executive level talent, but our corporate HR departments will spend thousands of dollars on job postings and relocation packages, even though the talent is right here.
With citizens coming to the Huntersville Chamber asking for networking assistance to find local job positions, it became clear that the traditional methods of job searches were not working for our local talent. As a chamber that works diligently to make direct and personal connections, we knew we had to change the job search scenario.
Working with Job Hubbub, our chamber established a local job search board, HuntersvilleWorks.com. We offer free job postings to our members and encourage residents to share the site with family and friends through social media. The site connects directly with Google Jobs, so anyone searching "jobs near me" locally is directed to our local Chamber member open positions.
A more personalized, local approach to job searches also allows our chamber to directly connect people to potential jobs. Although the site is easy to use and self-sustaining, we can monitor incoming jobs and applications and, when possible, make direct connections. The previous mentality of networking and trying to find someone in each company to get a foot in the door is now morphing toward a more direct effort to hire local and stay local in job searches.
We wanted to ensure that the system meets the needs of applicants and employers. Job-seekers receive an update if their application was read, so they didn’t have to wonder if their application went to some national headquarters “black hole”. We have also begun locating job kiosks at local establishments to increase business foot traffic and to make sure that people have access to search jobs throughout town. HR professionals can rate applicants and keep a file for any applications that come in for job positions. With the connection to Google Jobs, clicks to jobs listings on our site also improve SEO for member companies that post jobs on our board.
We are seeing a consistent increase in clicks and usage, currently at over 260,000 clicks a month and rising. We are about to launch a partnership with a local media organization to link our open jobs to their website and publications. Because HuntersvilleWorks has become a connector for our residents, we have developed the application to be utilized for other chambers of commerce. For example, Union County, N.C. is now utilizing the application as UnionCountyWorks.com and has launched with great acclaim.
We created the Job Hubbub platform to be the new way communities link job applicants to open, local positions. In a world of unlimited budgets, we would have launched an advertising campaign to encourage people to shorten their commutes and work where they live. Nevertheless, we are seeing a positive response to this new way of connecting, and offering this amenity has helped us attract new members. We would love to share the same application with any interested chamber. With potential for banner ads and paid chat features, it can quickly pay for itself!
Encouraging Entrepreneurship in High School
This post was authored by Danielle Britton, Talent and Education Director, Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce.
The Greater Binghamton Scholastic Challenge is an annual event in Binghamton, NY that brings together innovative minds of high school students and local businesses in a unique way. Founded by Modern Marketing & Commerce, GBSC gives high school students the opportunity to develop ideas and businesses that directly impact our community, all while competing for a chance to win scholarship money and internships.
The Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce and MMC partner to provide students with business connections and an inspiring final event. On Tuesday, May 21, MMC held its 10th annual Greater Binghamton Scholastic Challenge at Binghamton University in partnership with GBEOP. There were over 50 teams from 8 different local high schools who worked all year on the perfect business plan to showcase at the event.
Students worked with their teachers and business mentors to develop business ideas, create award-winning business plans and hone presentation skills. While given the choice to work individually or in teams, students were strongly encouraged to work together to learn communication and people skills. As part of the competition, the student or group was required to provide a professional tradeshow booth and business idea pitch. Local entrepreneurs and business leaders could then mentor or judge their business plans, which provided great connections and networking opportunities for the students.
To see a video from the 2019 Scholastic Challenge, click here.
The New Strategy for Afterschool
Over the past few years, chambers have increasingly focused on using afterschool as a strategy for career awareness and to decrease the skills gap in their communities. Afterschool has traditionally been used as time to do homework before parents get out of work, but it can be so much more. Afterschool can be the time when students are exposed to career opportunities, learn in demand skills and apply what they learned in the classroom to real life scenarios.
Chambers that have seen the potential of afterschool as a talent strategy are capitalizing on their investment in the workforce of tomorrow. Greater Spokane Inc, is taking advantage of afterschool opportunities to raise awareness of STEM possibilities and continue education past the bell. Check out the webinar featuring the Greater Spokane Inc’s work here. The Casper Area Chamber offers afterschool programming to improve students’ soft skills. Whether your chamber provides direct programming or supports other existing programs, there are many helpful resources at your disposal.
If you are considering your next steps for developing deeper partnership in the afterschool space, you may find ACCE’s afterschool partnership model helpful. This model illustrates how chambers can evolve a new partnership into a mature, effective collaboration. You can find other helpful resources on the Afterschool STEM Chamberpedia page.
Linda Barton of the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance, Erin Helms of the Casper Area Chamber, and Elissa Ruckle of Elevate Wyoming presented a webinar titled How Afterschool Can Shape Your STEM Workforce. This webinar also included perspectives from aftershool experts Ron Ottinger from the STEM Next Opportunity Fund and Kari Pardoe of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.
Do you use afterschool as part of your career awareness and closing the skill gap strategy? We would love to hear from you. Email Amy Shields (email@example.com) to let us know what you are doing.
Investing in Work-Based Learning and Our Future
This post was authored by Amanda Beights, Vice President of the Leadership Collier Foundation.
The mission of the Leadership Collier Foundation (LCF), of the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, is to build a broad-based network of engaged community leaders. The foundation accomplishes this through its well-recognized leadership programs and talent development initiatives.
Cultivating Student Leaders & Developing Our Workforce
For more than 15 years, Youth Leadership Collier (YLC), the foundation’s program designed for students between their junior and senior years of high school, has empowered over 500 local graduates to become effective community leaders. The week-long program teaches leadership skills and personal development through hands-on experiences and eye-opening industry tours.
We also often hear from the local business community about their frustrations with talent development in our area which led our leadership to define workforce development needs to be a top policy priority for the Naples Chamber. Knowing the impact Youth Leadership Collier has made and the Chamber’s investment in connecting education and business, we realized the potential to develop similar work-based learning experiences for all local students.
Connecting Students to Professional Opportunities
Our focus is connecting students and businesses to internship opportunities, mentoring prospects, shadow days, industry fairs, networking events, work-site tours and in-school career programming. Over the past two years – through partnerships with our public and private high-schools, higher-education institutions and nonprofit organizations – we’ve paired thousands of students with successful work-based learning opportunities.
For example, one of the main draws of Youth Leadership Collier is the opportunity to get behind-the-scenes tours of local businesses. Expanding on that idea and the needs of our community, our team has set up site-tours with local manufacturing facilities to introduce up-and-coming talent to potential new career pathways.
We also host Mentor Mingle opportunities designed specifically for high school and college students to network with local business professionals. This gives students the opportunity to practice their soft-skills and develop relationships with community members out of their immediate circle.
The benefits for students, businesses and the community are extensive. Students enjoy applying what they learn in the classroom to the real-world and establish professional contacts for future employment. Employers gain access to a pool of skilled future employees and find opportunities to pursue new projects with student assistance. The community benefits because we have created an environment of collaboration, cooperation and respect for all involved. Work-based learning is a win for everyone.
Over the last year, our director of work-based learning has served as a resource to students and employers. Taking the time to nurture future talent from our educational institutions and informing employers on the value of hiring an intern.
More Resources to Come
Southwest Florida can expect a lot from the Greater Naples Chamber’s Leadership Collier Foundation in the future.
Our team is going beyond the traditional methods and encouraging students to think differently about careers in Collier County and pathways to prosperity. We are here to support all by serving as a leader and partner in the connection to business, education and talent development in Collier County. Our goal is to create economic opportunity for all and motivate our future leaders to better our community and their lives for years to come.
Creating a Workforce Readiness Institute for Educators
This post was authored by Stephanie Newland, Vice President, Workforce Readiness, Shoals Chamber of Commerce.
Students ask, “Why do I need to know this?” and “When will I ever use this again?” Do educators really know? They may know about doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers and teachers, but what about machinists, CNC operators, multi-craft maintenance and so many other technical professionals who have high-demand, high-skill, high-paying careers? Would they know to advise their students to consider these jobs? Most likely not. Hence, our nation’s current skills gap!
We never discourage anyone from getting as much education as they desire or need to reach their goals, but we have found that many students do not know enough about technical careers to choose them as a goal. We want students to marry their interests and passions with available career opportunities and get as much training and skills in those areas as they can. We encourage all students (directly and through their teachers) to gain a marketable skill and preferably to earn certification(s) in high school.
We believe students should learn how to do something that employers will value and which will benefit their ultimate educational and career goals. If they are not financially able or choose not to go directly to college, they can still make a living. Then, maybe their employer will pay for their continued education. If not, they can still save for school, or work through school and have less, or possibly no, student loan debt. It is simply a win-win to have a marketable skill no matter what you plan to do after high school.
Since 2008, the Shoals Chamber of Commerce has hosted a summer program now called Workforce Readiness Institute for Educators. During this program, 25 – 30 regional educators (classroom teachers, counselor, administrators, youth workers, etc.) spend seven days touring local industry and the technical programs at Northwest-Shoals Community College, learning how the academics they teach in the classroom tie into jobs in business and industry.
Our target audience is middle and high school math and science teachers and counselors, but if we have space, we accept any interested educators. At the conclusion, they write career-related lesson plans, so students better understand the “why” and “when” of what they are learning. We then provide links to the lesson plans from our chamber’s Education/Workforce webpage and invite other educators to use them, which increases the ROI for the program. Those not on contract during the summer are paid a modest stipend ($75/day), which is funded by grants, sponsorships and donations. Participants are also eligible to receive professional development credit, both CEUs / Contact Hours for classroom teachers and a state-approved PLU for administrators.
Businesses who participate love sharing their workforce needs and challenges with the educators. Educators are amazed at all the businesses they never realized were even in the area, on “that street” they had never ventured down, as well as the great career opportunities for so many of their students who may not be interested in a 4-year degree … at least not yet. They learn how their math, science and English concepts are used daily within these businesses. They also see how important soft skills are, such as taking responsibility and pride in your work, being on time, critical thinking, teamwork and respecting others. They usually rank the WRI among the best, most relevant professional development opportunities they have ever encountered.
We are encouraging those at the state level to implement this type of program at colleges of education so student teachers will have a better understanding of the end result of the academics and skills they teach before they ever enter the classroom. An educator's goal should not only be to get students from Math A to Math B, but to make sure their students have a working understanding of how Math A can be used someday in various careers and why it is important that they can use it in the real world.
Did you know that making upgrades to your community’s environment can improve the health outcomes of your community? Your chamber or community may have added sidewalks, created pedestrian-only downtown spaces or host a local farmer’s market every weekend. Placemaking has traditionally been seen as an economic development strategy, but it also can be a community health strategy. No matter how your chamber implements placemaking, one thing is for sure; it makes your community the place to be.
The Billings Chamber (Mont.) is intentional about using placemaking as an avenue for better health outcomes in the community. Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Reiser CCE, IOM says, “Healthy placemaking means making the healthy choice the easy choice by being intentional about considering health when developing policies and systems.”
The Billings Chamber put this into action through their Trails Initiative. The chamber led the task force that increased and connected trails in the community. Billings went from having 15 miles of trails to 40 miles. Jennifer shares, “By including opportunities for physical activity and movement, we can also increase opportunities for social connectedness, thus affecting both the physical and mental health of our employees. We are encouraging our employers to use healthy placemaking as a tool for employee engagement and workforce development.”
If you are interested in learning more about healthy placemaking, the Inclusive Healthy Placemaking Report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is a helpful place to start. Below is a summary table from the Inclusive Healthy Placemaking Report on how to incorporate healthy placemaking in your community.
Public SpaceNeighborhood City Regional/National
Do you have healthy placemaking stories to share? We would love to hear from you. Email Emily Counts (firstname.lastname@example.org) to let us know what you are doing.
Attracting Summer Talent to Rockport-Fulton
Rockport-Fulton is rising with a positive and quick recovery after Hurricane Harvey’s eye hovered over that community for more than 13-hours just 20 months ago. Employers of the Rockport-Fulton needed workers to fill positions in their community.
For the summer 2019, the Chamber ran a campaign called Build Your Resume at the Beach. Using their website, social media and other collateral, the Chamber encouraged job-seekers to apply for summer jobs on the coast. Job types include hotel staff, waiters, waitresses, breakfast clerks, cooks, general managers, massage therapists, landscapers, etc. A full chart of available jobs can be accessed through the link above.
“We are recovering at an impressive pace and are having a great summer. Our employers need to bring on more staff. We are encouraging anyone interested in summer jobs on the coast to get in touch with our employers,” said Diane Probst, President/CEO of the Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber thought this campaign would be attractive to young adults wanting to build their resume while still enjoying a great summer locale. Rockport-Fulton is surrounded by water on three sides, there is a mile-long beach, tons of outdoor recreation and lots of opportunities. In a tight labor market, finding new ways to sell your location to potential employees is important.
The Chamber provided both job listings and a listing of available housing on its campaign webpage. Interested candidates could then reach out directly to employers to set up interviews. Once they secured a job, they were able to easily find a place to stay for the summer. “It’s a great way to get some experience and help our employers get some relief at the same time,” said Probst.
For more information, visit Rockport-Fulton.org or call 1-800-242-0071 or 361-729-6445.
About the Chamber
The Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce is a 5-star Chamber as recognized by the US Chamber of Commerce. The mission is to work in partnership with businesses, individuals and governmental entities to promote commerce and tourism while maintaining the environment. The Chamber works very closely with small businesses. It is PLANE-ly focused on promotion, leadership, advocacy, networking and the economy.
Afterschool STEM for tomorrow's workforce
Chambers of commerce are partnering with the Mott Foundation’s 50 State Afterschool Network to advance high-quality programming for elementary school-aged students across the U.S.
Here are examples of two chambers — one in South Carolina, and one in Washington state — that are teaming up with their statewide networks to help kids get a jump-start on science, math and technology.
In 2010, the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce joined forced with the South Carolina Afterschool Alliance to promote STEM learning for students in the state’s public school system.
Initially, the focus was ensuring members' employees could remain productive between 2–5:00 p.m. on weekdays, said Cynthia Bennett, vice president of education at the South Carolina Chamber. Later, as the project evolved, its mission shifted to guaranteeing that networks were providing high-quality, STEM-focused learning opportunities for the entire community.
“We chose to work with the network because there was a common ground for mutual benefits and shared priorities,” said Bennet. “We are the voice of business in South Carolina and our main goal and concern was—and still is—making sure we have an educated workforce that will be able to take over, as opposed to having to be retrained.”
Through their collaboration, the chamber helped the South Carolina Afterschool Alliance increase its visibility and credibility among the state's business leaders, as well as secure funding for additional science and technology exposure.
“As a mom of two boys, I understand being a working mother and having to decide what to do with my kids,” she said. “For me, as well as for the chamber, it wasn’t just about having a program—it was about providing something valuable. Were they offering something meaningful, or were they just babysitting?”
In Washington, Greater Spokane Incorporated and School’s out Washington have worked to promote statewide afterschool learning, with a focus on STEM skills and careers.
“School’s Out Washington is providing quality improvement and professional development support, and GSI is providing connections to business and STEM learning essentials that afterschool providers can use,” said Alisha Benson, vice president of education and workforce at GSI. “One of our greatest strengths as a chamber is our ability to convene many of the entities across the table on education and pipeline issues within the business community.”
GSI has implemented an initiative with SOW called Business AfterSchool, which is a series of industry skills workshops aimed at providing on-site awareness of Spokane’s high-demand jobs to students in the region.
“It’s an awesome opportunity for students to go into a business and take an in-depth look at those careers and how their skills work,” said Meg Lindsay, GSI’s executive director of education and workforce. “I think the really important piece of all this is that, as we enter a business setting, we’re really engaging business professionals in a way that kids just can't get during regular school hours.”
The case for internships
When it comes to landing that first job after college, research shows that completing an internship makes a world of difference in the eyes of hiring managers. Aside from providing students with work-based learning experiences, internships are used by communities to build talent pipelines that funnel students into the workforce.
The Fellowship for Education Attainment challenges chamber professionals to develop regional action plans that address specific education needs in their communities. Below, descriptions of plans devised by two former Fellows offer case studies on how to set up a successful internship program in your community.
Pathways to Pipelines
In the Chicago area, most employers judge internship experience as more valuable than other academic credentials, says Anne Kisting, executive director at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
In addition to helping students find jobs, Kisting figured internships could also solve a chronic problem facing regional employers—a severe shortage of IT talent. This led the chamber, in partnership with its local school district, to expand the Pathways to Pipelines initiative, which connects high school STEM students with small businesses from the community.
“We’re giving these students meaningful, work-based learning experiences that make them more attractive for employment,” says Kisting. “Some of these students come from schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods, so these kinds of internships are a way to level the playing field.”
The chamber educates businesses owners about best practices in internships, including the need for soft skills training. To ensure success, the chamber hosted an education session for business owners on the topic of managing internships.
“It sounds intuitive, but it’s not,” says Kisting. “We equip small business owners with tips and advice to make this an optimal experience all-around. Being aware of the need for soft skills and being willing to work on them is essential.”
Kisting plans to work with local colleges to create a more direct school-to-employer pipeline and engage larger businesses by expanding the Pathways program. She also wants to see employers gain more perspective on internships and the myriad benefits they offer.
“I envision this expanding into the college internship space, so that a meaningful IT talent pipeline is created for employers in the Chicagoland region,” she says, adding: “I also hope that employers will be more educated about the return on investment in internships.”
In Springfield, Ohio, a city of 59,000 wedged partway between Columbus and Dayton, Amy Donahoe, director of workforce development at the Chamber of Greater Springfield, sought a way to use her regional action plan as a springboard to retain a larger share of the intern talent, much of which leaves the city after college and never returns.
“The main goal of Career Sync is to take the young talent while they’re working here for the summer and engage them in more aspects of the community,” said Donahoe. "We want to engage them with people and events and show them what we’re all about and the type of people that are here.”
Donahoe engaged local young professional groups to help brainstorm ways to enhance the internship experience in the city, efforts which culminated in a series of four educational and networking sessions, in which YPs would teach interns about topics like networking and personal branding, community attractions, negotiating compensation packages and investing and retirement savings.
Through Career Sync, the chamber was able to link up prominent employers with well-established internship programs like Speedway LLC, the gas station and convenience store chain headquartered in Clark County, with other, smaller businesses that are considering setting up their own internship programs. Career Sync also assigned young professionals as mentors to the interns to guide them and help them grow professionally.
Donahoe intends to grow Career Sync and establish a fundraising plan to raise money for the program, which had relied on volunteer time and donations for the educational sessions. She hopes to organize a larger event, like a sports game, to engage more interns and young professionals.
“I want to really engage a larger group of interns, so incorporating a big event is something we can do,” said Donahoe. “Based on the feedback I got from employers, it seems like they all think this is something that can grow bigger and have more of an impact in the future.”