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Chamber partners with businesses to address Skills Gap in education


The Collierville Chamber of Commerce and businesses like CCL Label, MCR Safety, FedEx TechConnect, Carrier and Helena Chemical have set forth an initiative to address the Skills Gap.

In a recent roundtable discussion, business reps and Collierville Schools Superintendent John Aitken, and Dan Lattimore, Ed. D, Vice Provost for Extended Programs & Dean, University College from the University of Memphis shared ideas and experience in filling vacancies with skilled applicants.

Industry research shows employers count the skills gap as one of their biggest impediments to growth.

At a time when nearly 11 million Americans are unemployed, 4 million jobs go unfilled in part because employers cannot find qualified candidates.

According to The Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce, nearly 18,000 jobs went unfilled in Shelby County in 2015, due largely to a substantial skills gap.

Some 40 Collierville business representatives, along with town and Chamber executives and Collierville School Board members attended the recent event.

The Collierville Chamber introduced the approach to address this need for alignment between the business and education communities through the lens of supply chain management.

Attendees filled out a Skills Gap survey “to help us identify the career paths that are lacking quality people in the workforce,” Kanette Keough-Rodgers, Collierville Chamber president and CEO said.

The survey included questions like ‘the greatest staffing challenge facing your company, specific job skills that are difficult to find and services or assistance not currently offered thru education that could help meet talent needs.’

The Collierville Partners in Education (PIE) initiative explores how employers — the “demand side” of the equation — will come together to develop talent supply partnerships with education and workforce development providers — the “supply side” — to close the Skills Gap.

The program will be a 501c3 not for profit organization within the Chamber and will put emphasis on enhancing the labor force in the Collierville area and focus on STEM Training-Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Action steps will be led by the Collierville Chamber PIE committee with Industry input to explore how the business community will play an active role in solving the skills gap.

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