Charlotte Works launched the Youth Business Connector (YBC), a new free, online tool that connects employers and educators to provide real-world career experiences for students, at a press conference on April 8.
Nearly 60 guests packed the large classroom at the Employer Engagement Center to learn about this first and only tool of its kind in the Charlotte region.
Introduced by Charlotte Works’ President and CEO Steve Partridge, Dr. Heath Morrison, superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, and Bob Morgan, president and CEO of the Charlotte Chamber, spoke about the importance of work-based learning (WBL) and the new website.
“We can’t be so arrogant as to think that all learning happens in schools,” said Morrison. “Some of the best learning happens outside of schools.”
Directing a comment to the businesspeople in the room, he said he was excited about the YBC because WBL experiences are “the best thing you can give to our students today.”
Morgan called himself “a product of internships” and described how his internship experiences were more valuable than his college classes. He noted that when he talks to CEOs, “the number-one priority for them is talent. The YBC will help develop the native talent we have in this community.”
Youth Works Director Danielle Frazier toured the audience through the YBC, describing how it was designed to streamline the process of connecting employers who want to offer WBL opportunities to the students and youth who want to participate in them.
WBL expands the walls of the classroom by exposing students to a variety of industries and skills in ways that are not possible in the classroom alone. WBL experiences include classroom speakers, workplace tours, career days, job-shadowing, internships, apprenticeships and cooperative education. WBL affords students the opportunity to become acquainted with careers of interest while gaining understanding of real work practices and learning core workplace competencies such as problem-solving, communication and critical thinking.
Interested businesses can visit the YBC and click on “Employers” to create a company profile and access comprehensive guides for each type of WBL. Once their profiles are verified, they will have access to a database of registered education professionals (teachers, career development coordinators, guidance counselors and others) who are looking for WBL opportunities for students and youth (from middle school through post-secondary and out-of-school). Employers and educators can then connect to coordinate WBL activities.
During the question-and-answer period following the presentations, Clifton Vann, president of Livingston & Haven, an advanced manufacturer headquartered in Charlotte that is heavily involved in providing WBL opportunities, reminded guests that, “Education is not the responsibility of schools – it’s the responsibility of the community. If we don’t pay attention, we’re going to get what we deserve.”