The Tucson Metro Chamber listened to its investors during a series of “Roundtables” to identify and address the biggest challenges facing local businesses today. Finding qualified workers was identified as the biggest obstacle to the success of businesses and the overall growth of our local economy. Businesses are not aware of the curricula being taught and our schools are not aware of the talent needs of local businesses.
Based on Roundtable discussions, a small group of business leaders along with TUSD Superintendent H.T. Sanchez helped to build a paid summer internship program for incoming TUSD high school seniors. The group chose to focus on automotive technologies knowing there was a significant shortage of such employees. Eight local auto service centers were identified to test the model. Participating businesses said they had no connections to local students. Furthermore, there was no PAID summer internship program available to these students. Unless the students are paid many of them turn down internship opportunities because they must hold paying jobs.
The six week pilot program officially launched June 1. Of the eight students that participated, five completed the paid internship program and were offered part-time jobs during their senior year and three were direct hires resulting in full time careers upon graduation.
The Tucson Metro Chamber’s next step is to develop a task force of business leaders to expand the TUSD program. Imagine the impact of 50 or 60 students working together with businesses in many different career sectors.
Tucson is no different than the many communities facing this challenge. As Author, Mark Lautman said in his book, When the Boomers Bail : “A structural shortage of qualified workers is creating a zero-sum labor market that is forcing communities to steal talent from each other in order to survive and grow.”
If you are interested in joining this task force, contact Lori Banzhaf at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CLICK HERE to view the TUSD & Tucson Metro Chamber automotive internship video to learn more about the success of the program and to hear from the students that participated.