Rogue Workforce Partnership gets $36,000 grant installment

The Rogue Workforce Partnership has received the second installment of a three-year $120,000 grant from the William and Florence Schneider Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation.

The $36,000 allocated to the group this year follows an initial $60,000.

Jim Fong, who oversees the local Job Council office, said the money will help Jackson County students get a better understanding of business-related opportunities, readying them for the work world, while reducing high school dropout rates.

"Our second-year funding is mostly capacity building," Fong said, explaining that work will focus on creating alignment between business partners and the education system.

"We've got those partnerships solidly in place now," he said. "We went after the low-hanging fruit the first year, making sure students understood the dual-credit options with RCC and SOU were clear and accessible. Our hope is people are thinking about life after high school and about their career paths."

In round two, Fong said the goal is to dramatically increase participation in job shadowing, industry tours, career fairs and internships by high school and college students.

"We want to make sure traded-sector companies (firms whose products and services are sold outside of Oregon) are represented in these things," Fong said.

Fong alluded to a Canby High School program that produced 400 shadowing participants out of a student body of 1,500.

"The grant helps us plan to make sure we have the capacity for our coordinators and get our partners to the table," he said.

He said mechanical engineering students at Oregon Tech in Klamath Falls have been able to take industry tours and that others have had opportunities because of the grant.

"Last year, we had a careers and gear fair for high schools, where we highlighted traded sector, e-commerce, health care and manufacturing," Fong said. "We've seen a number of kids become interested in health care and electronics because they were able to go on specific tours for those industries, visiting Linx Technologies, Radio Design and Valley Immediate Care. We want to create more of these career links."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or Follow him on Twitter @GregMTBusiness, and read his blog at Edge.

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