Educators learn about local workforce


By Sarrah Peters, News Editor

The Gadsden-Etowah Chamber of Commerce and East Alabama Works recently teamed up to hold an educators workforce development workshop.

Marketing and Events Manager Suzy Jouben said that the Chamber had some leftover funds from its Excellence in Education award ceremony held earlier this year and wanted the money to be used to benefit teachers.

The program kicked off at The Chamber, where East Alabama Works Program Manager Carl Brady spoke to the 10 participating educators. Brady presented statistics on the area’s workforce and information about skills that employers are searching for, including soft skills such as interpersonal communication, conflict re-solution and showing up on time.

Then the educators toured the facilities of local employers Inteva Products, Prince Metal Stamping and Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Gadsden. The group also visited Gadsden State Community College’s technical department

Both Inteva and Prince Metal Stamping make car parts for various automobile companies. The educators learned about the technical skills that these types of industries are searching for in its employees.

At Gadsden State, the group learned more about the successes that the school’s technical programs have enjoyed with its graduates acquiring employment.

At Encompass, the educators learned about the wide variety of healthcare positions available, including nurses’ aides and physical therapists. Brady estimated that about three of the top five jobs in the area are healthcare related.

“It’s not just nurses that are needed,” said Brady.

Brady said that the goal of the program was to connect educators with the end result of school, which is not just graduating or passing standardized tests, but finding employment. The program also allowed the group to connect the subjects they are teaching, for instance math, with real life usage in jobs.

“The Etowah Workforce Academy was very enlightening as to the type of jobs available in our community for potential workers who would like to enter the workforce directly upon graduation from high school,” said attendee Susan Wills, a Media Specialist at Mitchell Elementary. “It was also informative to see the different jobs available for all levels of education from technical graduates to four-year graduates. This was helpful from a tea-cher’s standpoint to share with students’ opportunities in their own community to work and live.”

“The Etowah Workforce Academy was a great opportunity to remind me as well as the other educators about the job opportunities available here in our community,” said attendee Randy Vice, a teacher and boys soccer coach at Southside High School. “It will enable us to share these experiences and requirements with our students and colleagues.”

The educators that participated came from various schools and school systems in the area and represented a variety of grade levels, allowing the group to network among themselves as well.

Both the Chamber and East Alabama Works are excited to continue the educator’s workforce development workshop in the future.

Jouben said that the application to attend the workshop is sent to the schools, but that interested parties are welcome to contact the Chamber directly to receive an application as well.

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