We have focused several blog posts on this event to illustrate the importance of mentoring as tied to workforce development. Every Oklahoma community, especially businesses, can focus upon mentoring as a means to a better economy and quality of life for everyone. We took the liberty of bold facing some points.
Strong STEM, growing branches: Chamber devotes focus to mentoring in hard skills
TULSA – The Tulsa Regional Chamber and City of Tulsa promoted business mentoring at the Tulsa Community College Center for Creativity on Tuesday.
This year the chamber focused on mentoring in fields of science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, said Brian Paschal, the group’s senior vice president of education and workforce. Mentoring can be businesspeople meeting one-on-one with an elementary student for an hour of reading or actual internships in the workplace.
“We have identified that in the next five years, the highest-growth industries are all in STEM fields,” Paschal said.
Tulsa’s strongest employers are in manufacturing, aviation and aerospace, energy and health care, Paschal said.
“Going forward, those industries are projected to have the strongest growth and they all rely on STEM,” Paschal said. “We need to educate students on career options within STEM.”
Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett emphasized how businesses helping primary and secondary students in the STEM disciplines improves Tulsa’s workforce. He also gave an update on Tulsa Technology Center’s Aerospace Academy at R.L. Jones Jr./Riverside Airport. The academy will offer a day of aviation-related courses for high school juniors and seniors.
“Our goal is to teach our high school students about the opportunities that are there,” Bartlett said.
Many students are unaware of careers available locally, Paschal said.
“We want to get employers involved, obviously, and we need to educate students on where the jobs are, what skills are needed and explain to them the pathway to those jobs,” Paschal said.
At the same time, Bartlett said an objective of mentoring is to show potential employers there is an effort to develop an educated workforce in Tulsa, Bartlett said.
“Employers will see that Tulsa has a group of people being trained and view them as future employees,” Bartlett said. “They will not worry about being able to find employees.”
Tulsa’s Union High School has 11 students in its mentoring program, said Gart Morris, senior principal.
“This event today is significant because it gets information out,” Morris said. “We want to make a difference in the lives of those 11 kids. This program provides opportunities they would not ordinarily have.”
Bama Pies is one company that works with Union, Morris said. The company offers classes in the fall and then provides internships in the spring.
Tulsa Union senior Bernard Dindy plans on attending a welding school once he graduates.
“Mentoring is important because I want to understand what to look for once I graduate,” Dindy said. “I want to take advantage of the program so I can get a glimpse of the real world.”
Tuesday’s event gives Morris hope that the Union program can grow.
“I see it happening exponentially,” Morris said. “People see a little success and that breeds a lot of success.”
The program benefits not only students, but also the businesses that offer assistance, said Jim Spradlin, founding director of Train at Work. The Tulsa-based company offers training strategies for the workplace.
“From a business standpoint, I see opportunities for businesses to capture the skills in these students,” Spradlin said. “In some ways, students are ahead when it comes to the use of technology for business purposes. But, what students do not understand are business objectives and how to focus.”
Mentoring helps them focus, Spradlin said.
At the end of the program, Newfield Exploration awarded $25,000 to the Reading Partners program at Park Elementary in Tulsa.