A key part of a strong rural economy is a talented workforce.
Achieving this takes a collaborative of business owners willing to invest in the next generation of employees and educators willing to work with employers to provide job experience to students.
Rural businesses can take the initiative in preparing local youth for future employment, according Brent Parton, the deputy director of the Center on Education & Skills at New America, a D.C.-based think tank. Parton focuses on education policies at the Center in order to build learning-based pathways to economic opportunity. In this episode of the Rural Business Show, he talks about what rural communities can do to prepare a workforce that will benefit their economies long-term (6:33). He also shares how rural areas can become more entrepreneurial (9:32), what industries have the most potential for growth (12:09), the role businesses can play to build up the local talent pool (16:09), and examples of success that are happening today (23:00).
Key takeaways include the importance of hands-on learning and the vital role business play in that. Today’s economy begs for workers that can think on their feet and apply their knowledge in practical, productive ways. Rural businesses can accelerate this type of skill development by providing opportunities to local youth through work experience and internship programs. In such settings, kids learn what job opportunities are available and what employers’ expectations are. It also helps businesses increase the local talent pool, ensuring there are well-prepared new employees to fill vacancies.
This takes buy-in and cooperation between businesses and educators as they find ways to apply knowledge gained in the classroom to actual jobs that benefit the local economy. Parton said he is already seeing communities make this happen through various partnerships and creative uses of technology.