SIDNEY — Workforce Partnership of Shelby County (WP) is recognized as one of Ohio’s leading industry-sector partnerships, serving Shelby County companies and school districts exclusively.
Founded in 2013 by local business leaders, the organization’s mission is to align industry and education to equip the emerging workforce with employment readiness skills, increase students’ awareness of local career opportunities, and ultimately attract local talent.
“We represent 45 companies from the manufacturing, construction, transportation, and healthcare industries and are engaged with 100% of public and private schools. Our programming focuses on workforce development curriculum and career exploration activities. To-date more than 7,000 students have participated at some level,” said Deb McDermott, executive director.
A summary of 2022 highlights and accomplishments includes:
• Our premier event, Career Exploration Academy, celebrated its seventh year at the Shelby County Fairgrounds on September 29-30. Every local school district participated and together brought more than 1,000 students. We experienced a record number of industry participants with 27 companies and 38 career booths available for students to explore. The event was funded through a United Way project grant.
• Career Coach program, led by Kelly Edwards, finished its second year. To-date 255 students have participated with 47 of those students securing stable employment upon graduation. In addition, 22 students have participated in work-based learning opportunities via summer employment and school approved work-release. The United Way provides annual allocated funding towards the program.
• An inaugural Workforce Signing Event was held at Sidney High School on May 25. Twelve local seniors participated in a formal contract signing as fellow students and family members looked on. Special guest Lt. Gov. Jon Husted congratulated and celebrated these students and their career choices.
• A new part-time Programming Coordinator role was added in August, with Shelly Barhorst being hired for the position. The focus of this role is to strengthen and grow our foundational programs at the sixth-eighth grade levels by serving as a liaison between industry and education to coordinate classroom support.
• The Ninja Skilled Trades Challenge continues to introduce and engage students in construction skills. The activity traveled to 9 schools with 575 students completing the challenge. On May 4, 54 students from around the county competed in the Ninja Madness Finals held at Upper Valley Career Center. Audrey Prenger (Anna) and Henry Peterson (Holy Angels) were awarded first place finishers.
• The fourth annual Power Lunch was attended by 62 high school seniors who wanted to get connected to employment opportunities in Shelby County. 15 companies participated looking to recruit employees. Edison State and UVCC Adult Division were also present to discuss their certificate programs. Job Shadows, interviews, and employment offers result from these interactions.
• We introduced the 3E Initiative to Shelby County seventh-eighth grade students. “What’s your E?”: Employment (directly enter the workforce), Enrollment (college/trade school), or Enlistment (military). This platform challenges students to focus and identify their graduation pathway plan and take necessary actions to reach their goal.
As the demand for prepared and motivated employees continues to rise, the WP Board of Directors will focus on strategic methods towards our mission. Already planned is the introduction of a scholarship program and an increased focus on the 3E initiative. We will host our second annual Workforce Signing Event and our 10th Anniversary Celebration, both to be held at the Historic Sidney Theatre as a Business After-Hours with the public being invited.