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Students prep for workforce

Community: Local companies invest in next-generation employees through Connect2Success program

Posted: August 30, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: August 30, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Valencia High School juniors prepare for a pop-quiz during the financial literacy session at the 2010 Connecting2Success event held at the Grace Baptist Conference Center in Saugus.

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Local business owners and CEOs are again gearing up to prepare young people to enter the workforce.

The Connecting2Success program, sponsored by the Valley Industry Association, is being held at the Grace Baptist Conference Center on three separate dates this year – Oct. 24 and Nov. 7 and 14. Classes run between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Up to 2,500 juniors from the William S. Hart Union High School District are scheduled to participate in sessions designed to prep students on written and verbal communication skills needed in the work place, as well as ethics and financial literacy.

CEO forum
The concept for the job preparation series sprang from a VIA CEO forum 10 years ago, said Kathy Norris, president and CEO of VIA.  

“Executives said students were entering the workforce without the critical skills they needed,” Norris said.

The original program included team-building skills but as students began learning this skill on school campuses, VIA replaced it with financial literacy, a later concern expressed by business executives.

Every high school in the district participates, Norris said. Some schools send 100 percent of their 11th grade students, and others send as many as they can.

“Our goal is to reach and train every 11th grader in the district,” Norris said.

Business leaders
Each year, VIA attracts 80 to 100 business leaders who volunteer to teach the various seminar topics. Each business person agrees to a minimum four-hour obligation but some sign up to teach all three days.

Participating and sponsoring businesses who become involved with VIA’s Connecting 2Success program are investing in future employees locally.

“Training is delivered by local business professionals who are potentially future employers of these kids,” Norris said.

Funding
When the program first began, the price tag for the program was $50,000. In the past, VIA received grants to finance the investment in training students to enter the workforce. Grants, however, have become scarce over the years.

Remaining committed to training the future workforce, VIA scaled the program back in response by eliminating the lunch provided for students and moving from the Hyatt Regency Valencia to the Grace Conference Center which has 18 to 20 rooms available for training.

Private and corporate sponsors from the community now help support the student program and the high schools provide transportation.

Depending on how many students participate and classes are needed, VIA estimates it needs $15,000 to $20,000 to cover the expenses, Norris said. Class sponsorships are needed which range from only $100 to $1,000 contributions.

“If we can raise more than we need, we want to help the schools cover some of their transportation costs,” Norris said.

Facilitators
Class facilitators are needed as well to teach the students. VIA trains the facilitators to train the students, Norris said.
The high school juniors also arrive at the classes dressed for success.

“The kids are dressed in interview clothes, in job-appropriate clothing,” Norris said. “It’s very impressive to see that many students dressed that way.”

Businesses interested in supporting the next generation of employees may contact VIA at (661) 294-8088.

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