The California Chamber of Commerce and the Linked Learning Alliance have launched a new California network of employer associations committed to advancing youth opportunities and reducing youth unemployment.
The lead organizations, CalChamber and Linked Learning Alliance, bring together six local employer organizations for the network: the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Oxnard Chamber of Commerce, Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce, Chico Chamber of Commerce and the Silicon Valley Organization.
This network, unique in California, is supported by a $150,000 grant from the James Irvine Foundation, a stalwart supporter of linked learning and career pathway approaches for high school students.
“This network will leverage the power of an employer-led approach to build scalable systems that give students work-based learning experiences that help prepare them for college and careers,” said Loren Kaye, president of the CalChamber-affiliated California Foundation for Commerce and Education.
“We’re working to close the skills gap by encouraging employers to act as ‘end customers’ of education and workforce partnerships.”
By 2030, California will face a “skills gap” of 1.1 million career-ready college graduates to meet employers’ needs, according to the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC).
“The Chamber Network is providing an incredible resource to the business community by shining a spotlight on the many ways for business and educators to work together,” said Anne Stanton, president and CEO of Linked Learning Alliance. “The diversity in region and size of the participating chambers offers a range of frameworks and best practices for others to adopt. The Network is sending an important message that businesses can and should get involved with their local schools.”
Examples of work in the partner regions include:
• Sacramento Metro Chamber Foundation aims to increase the number of employers offering paid youth internships to Sacramento youth in partnership with local school districts. Since 2017, the chamber has led employer recruitment for Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s citywide youth workforce initiative, Thousand Strong.
• Los Angeles Area Chamber plans to broaden the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) workforce and address the unique workforce needs of the emerging biotech industry. Students enrolled in Los Angeles Unified School District health care pathways will have an opportunity to participate in a continuum of work-based learning activities, including industry speakers, classroom mentors, job shadows, work site visits, industry panels, and internships.
• Oxnard Chamber will continue the development of its Direct Path to Success, which connects employers to their future workforce and exposes high school students to careers with local businesses. Interns participate in an Intern Readiness Certification program that prepares them through a series of professional and soft skills training. Once students are “intern ready,” local employers offer students guaranteed interviews for paid or unpaid internships.
• Greater Riverside Chambers will partner with Riverside Unified School District to bridge the gap between the K-12 curriculum and the essential skills needed in tomorrow’s workforce by developing a work-based learning management tool that connects local high school students with businesses through internships that provide experience, training, and other workforce development opportunities.
• Chico Chamber will develop and promote student internships and work-based learning opportunities through Team Chico, a public-private economic development collaborative between the City of Chico, Chico Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Chico Business Association, Alliance for Workforce Development, 3CORE, Chico State University, and Butte College.
• Silicon Valley Organization will lead Strive San Jose, a partnership with four local school districts to connect industry and education by scaling employer-driven engagement to increase work-based learning for students, industry engagement for teachers, and curricular alignment between industry and career technical education courses.
CalChamber will partner with the Linked Learning Alliance to convene the network of chambers to share best practices, testimony from experts and field leaders, and disseminate resources and supportive materials through webinars and group communications.