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Earlier this year, the U.S. Dept. of Labor named the Charleston region’s Youth Apprenticeship Program a national model and announced they’d hold the first ever National Apprentice Study Tour here in Charleston in February. Additional recognition came in November with the announcement that our region would serve as a pilot for a new Engineering Youth Apprenticeship program that has aspirations of becoming a national model utilized throughout the country.
… We’re blushing. But the whole region should be beaming, and not just because the program is changing children’s lives.
The region should be proud of the Youth Apprenticeship Program as a showcase of collaboration in action. No single organization owns or runs the program. It is a true partnership among the Chamber, Trident Technical College, Project Lead the Way, four school districts across three counties, dozens of employers, business and municipal investors and school administrators, teachers and guidance counselors. The program couldn’t have grown from a fledgling pilot in 2014 to 100 apprentices in 15 career pathways in 2017 without hundreds of people marching in the same direction.
Collaboration of this nature is much easier said than done. It takes shared vision and sustained trust. You need alignment at the leadership level and cooperation every day at the implementation level. Multiply the difficulty by the number of entities involved and you begin to appreciate why our program is a national model.
Want another example of collaboration in action? The Charleston Metro Chamber and the Charleston Regional Development Alliance have worked collaboratively for years, jointly releasing important research like the Talent Demand Study and Regional Economic Scorecard, as well as co-hosting the Regional Competitiveness Center, an online portal for economic, workforce and demographic data. The two organizations took partnership to a new level in 2016 with the development of One Region, a global competitiveness strategy built on four foundational values.
It’s expected that organizations charged with business growth and business climate in the same region will cooperate. But sharing a commitment to a regional vision and strategic plan is a pretty special kind of collaboration.
Have a great weekend!