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DISCOVER: Inspire - A New Way To Connect Students

Impact & Advocacy

The benefits of engaging our workforce and importance of ‘growing our own’ continues to be the focus on many minds. Workforce continues to be the buzzword heard at a variety of meetings from local elected officials to community based organizations and schools. Discussed needs range from filling immediate openings in skilled/technical jobs within STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) to building the pipelines for other projected needs because of the aging workforce within certain industries. All of which require a full collaborative effort between business and education working together so we are building a community that is not only aware of the business needs, but working towards filling those jobs as well.

The Lancaster Chamber has made it our top priority in our Strategic Plan to address this workforce need within our community. To do this, we must be at the table in framing out the workforce conversations that are happening in our County. There are several “hubs” doing great work and focusing on certain pieces of the workforce issues, but our work at the Chamber is bringing that all together under one umbrella. This not only reduces duplicity, but makes navigating this great work much easier for businesses and education to work together.

Creating a sense of urgency around this topic is key in getting the right partnerships developed to take action in advancing the work around addressing the skills shortage not only locally, but nationally as well. With 6.3 million job openings and almost 40% of employers indicating that they are unable to take on new business due to this talent shortage, it is very important to see how the education system is impacting business on a national level.  While 33% of business leaders believe that educational institutions are graduating students with the skills and competencies their businesses need, at the same time, learners are struggling to connect their education to a career which leaves them unemployed or underemployed.

That is where a new online platform called Inspire comes into the picture. The Lancaster County STEM Alliance and the Lancaster Chamber have collaborated to implement a work-based learning network for employers, schools, K-12 students and families in Lancaster County that are interested in connecting through workplace apprenticeships, internships, job shadowing experiences, company tours, and temporary employment opportunities.  This Inspire software is an add-on to a career exploration software that many school districts are already using and will allow local employers to connect with student and career planners in a safe and secure environment. 

Connecting today’s employers with tomorrows workforce can only happen if we all work together by educating ourselves on the true occupational demands and the career paths within them, as well as the viable income they provide.  Career exploration is top priority for many schools and part of the College and Career Readiness Indicators that schools are graded on, so it is crucial that our local businesses do what they can to be sure their companies continue to be viable options as students enter the workforce.  Through partnerships with the Lancaster County Workforce Development Board and the Lancaster STEM Alliance, we have been able to help assist in various career exploration activities, not only for students, but for educators as well. 

Inspire platform will launch prior to the 2019-2020 school year. Here is how your businesses can get involved now:

  • Identify opportunities within your company to connect with local students
  • Contact the Chamber
  • Work with us to download your information on the platform for all to see. 

There are many benefits of our community working together to grow our own and keep students engaged with local employers and see them as a viable option for work here in Lancaster County and beyond. Creating mentorship opportunities where students can turn their career exploration into hands on experiences helps the transition to work.

If you have questions or want more information, feel free to contact Anna Ramos –, Business Initiatives Director with the Lancaster Chamber and check out the Lancaster STEM Alliance website.

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