Mentoring our workforce in the new decade

Bill Christopher

Last month I wrote about the start of the new year and decade and encouraged you to take full control of your life and make 2020 and the rest of the 20’s the best they can be for you and your loved ones. This month, I want to reinforce you still do that, but also ask you to engage to help the next generation workforce become the best they can be as well.

We have hundreds of jobs in the area today that we are unable to fill with local talent. There are many reasons for this current situation, and it is not unique to our county.

Most of us want to place blame on someone and we call out the school system, the government, advancements in technology, business owners, the church, drug usage, or the breakdown of the family structure for creating the issue. I believe the problem is a decline in overall community engagement and the lack of cooperation for the common good.

As a result, no one entity can be held solely accountable nor can any one entity address the issue. It will require the entire community working together to make a difference. It is important to note we did not get here overnight, and it will not change overnight.

The good news is the system is not completely broken as we are still able to produce talented and motivated young people ready to enter the workforce. I get to meet and work with many of them regularly. Therefore, our task is to expand and continue the things that are working and fix the things that are not.

Everyone reading this can have a positive impact – the first step is just believing we can make a difference. The next step is to engage and be part of the solution.

It would be great to spend as much or more time and effort working to help as we spend complaining. It will take all of us working together to create the resilient workforce required to provide a vibrant, strong, and growing community.

The following are just two ways to engage. There are literally hundreds, so get out and find one or more that work for you.

Junior Achievement (JA) of the Eastern Shore is working to provide students of all ages with the basic life skills needed to make them valuable contributors to society and to make them employees any employer would want to hire. You can engage with JA by volunteering to spend time in the classroom delivering their curriculum or making donations to allow them to expand their work in Dorchester County. If you are a business owner, learn more about JA Inspire and consider getting engaged with that event.

We would like every business to consider hiring a Youth Apprentice. This program is a great way to help build local talent and keep it in the county. The program is a joint effort between Dorchester County Public Schools and Maryland Department of Labor that allows students to earn credit towards graduation while working in an industry that may provide the start of a life-long career.

If you are interested in learning more about either of these programs or others in the area reach out to us at the Chamber, at 410-228-3575 or send me an email at bill@dorchesterchamber.org.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Mr. Christopher is the president/CEO of the Dorchester Chamber of Commerce.