Workforce development: Preparing tomorrow’s leaders today

We hear it time and again from business leaders, city officials, and economic development organizations: workforce development is critical to building a thriving economy.

Todd Sanders

Todd Sanders

A stronger workforce equals a more robust local economy, one that has the ability to retain, grow and expand businesses, as well as attract new investment.

Economic competiveness and long term-success are directly tied to the strength and skillset of our workforce.

The Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce and Junior Achievement of Arizona, two organizations deeply committed to the vibrancy of the Arizona economy, understand that building a skilled workforce is critical for economic development and are implementing initiatives to prepare Arizona’s future leaders.

Work- and career-readiness is a pillar of Junior Achievement’s mission, which is to educate our K-12 students about financial literacy and entrepreneurship, in addition to work readiness.

Joyce Richards

Joyce Richards

The nonprofit helps to shape the college and career-readiness conversation, and has played an important role in Arizona’s workforce and economic development since 1957. Its signature work-readiness program for high school students, JA You’re Hired!, was developed seven years ago to address concerns from hiring managers about how unprepared entry-level candidates are in our community.

This program trains  students to be better equipped to enter the workforce and understand  the importance of the correlation between education and  their future success. To date, JA You’re Hired! has educated more than 5,000 students.

Like Junior Achievement, the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce is continually looking for opportunities to provide real-world knowledge to better prepare today’s youth for tomorrow. As part of the chamber’s public affairs efforts, its Workforce Readiness Committee works to enhance academic achievement and accountability, advocates for employment policies that encourage job creation and retention and supports educational institutions to create a stronger workforce.

Our organizations are committed to helping young people become well-prepared for today’s global marketplace. On April 2, at the downtown Phoenix Sheraton, we look forward to interacting with 500 Valley students at Junior Achievement’s JA You’re Hired! Challenge, where they will test their work-readiness skills and compete against other student teams to see who has the best networking, interviewing and business skills.

Students will have the opportunity to meet and network with 300 top CEOs, political leaders and other professionals who will help the next generation of leaders learn how to make a positive impact in our community and be successful. Some students will even be offered summer internships at local companies to continue their training.

To learn more about how you can participate in shaping future business leaders through the JA You’re Hired! Challenge on April 2, please visit www.jaaz.org/ jayh. Together, we know that investing in children always pays the highest return.

Editor’s note: This column was co-authored by Todd Sanders, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, and Joyce Richards, president of Junior Achievement of Arizona.

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