Bridging the gap between education and business

Sep 09, 2009

We all understand that education plays an important role for our children to grow healthy and confident. But do our schools always impart knowledge and experience that prepare our young people for their first job?

This has been the topic of a dialog that has been evolving over the past two years through our local Chamber of Commerce. A steering committee issued a set of consensus principles for addressing workforce readiness, and has begun to turn thought into action.

As a result, Amway was among several companies to participate in an Educator in the Workplace program last month, which is in its second year and just starting to grow.

Aiming to bridge the gap between education and business, Educator in the Workplace is a collaboration of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, the Kent Intermediate School District and Grand Valley State University. Sixteen teachers from local schools applied to this program, double the number of last year. The teachers receive credit that can be used toward their credential requirements.

After being divided into cohort groups, each group was given orientation, and then spent an afternoon at one company and a full day at another. They came back together on the last day to present what they learned through interaction with the companies and how they would incorporate the business experience into lesson plans.

One fourth-grade teacher from the Detroit area spent a full day at Amway. She told us that the program provided her with a clear insight of what skills are most needed by employers, which was critical for her to make her curriculum more applicable. It also gave her an idea of the types of careers there are these days, and how specialized each position is in a large company.

Another junior high teacher from Grand Rapids Public Schools visited Amway R&D facilities and talked with our scientists. He said walking into the company gave him a better idea of how to get a job and maintain a job for the fresh graduates. He also got a good sense of the leadership and teamwork skills needed to succeed in a corporate environment.

We often see our school outreach as a purely philanthropic program to help those in need. But today’s students are tomorrow’s workforce. It’s such a simple concept – bring the teachers in to show them what the business world is like and how it is changing. But times like these provide breakthroughs in understanding for teachers, and give us the chance to understand how our future workforce is taking shape.

That’s a worthwhile investment!

From guest blogger Robin Luo, Amway Corporate Citizenship Department.

  • 1 Comment

    • Mark Garlock says:

      As an IBO that is also a public school teacher I think one of the major goals we have is to get students to "think".  We try to develop their ability to see their potential and act on it.  It is our job to build confidence and a life long desire to learn.  That is what I like about being an IBO.  This is a journey not a sprint.  As IBOs we try to steer our friends to the potential that they maybe don't see but we do.  Students learn from their teachers.  IBOs learn from their mentors.

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