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Chamber Seeks Partnerships

Depending upon whose survey you read, there are said to be anywhere between 120,000 and 150,000 job openings in Massachusetts and yet, nearly a quarter of a million Massachusetts residents remain unemployed. The reason for this is what is known as a skills gap in middle skills jobs. So what is a "middle skills" job? Basically, one that requires more than a high school diploma but not a four-year college degree. Increasingly, jobs are being created that require such skills, but we are not training or re-training enough people to fill these jobs.

At the same time, we are experiencing a nationwide achievement gap when it comes to college readiness in math and science skills among our high school students. Additionally, I hear often from employers that today's young employees often lack basic "soft skills" necessary to for the workplace. Things like people skills, proper dress, written and verbal communication, etc. cannot be taken for granted anymore.

So while Massachusetts continues to lead the way in academic achievement, there are clearly areas in which we can improve the way we prepare our students for college and career. Recognizing the importance of a well-qualified workforce to the competitiveness of the local business community, the Chamber is proud to have just formed an Education and Business Committee. The Committee held its first meeting in October and will meet again on Thursday, November 29th at 8:00 am at Canton High School. If you are interested in helping to build connections between the business community and our local school systems (particularly at the high school level), please join us on November 29th. The success of our efforts will be determined by the level of participation we receive from our members in the business community.

The Committee will continue to do programs that we have done in the past and look for other creative ways to assist our schools by working with representatives from the school systems, so that we are not operating in a vacuum. Last year our "Back to School Days" brought business people into the classroom to interact directly with students and teachers. We will conduct that program again in December with details available soon. We also held a career awareness day which brought about 10 business people out to speak to over 50 local high students about making educated college and career choices.

I mentioned above that we are working with representatives from our local school systems. They will be active members of this new committee, and I think that makes it unique and will help its success. Too often business people try to prescribe a change for schools without actually being in the trenches and understanding what will or won't work in a particular case. It is our hope that by partnering directly with our schools we can be more targeted in what we do and ultimately more effective.
Please consider joining us in this new initiative for the benefit of our students and local business. If you have any questions or would like to learn more, please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).