Education and Workforce Development Committee
Participation in our Committees is one of the most important ways members can engage in TGCC’s mission to serve the greater good. The mission of the Education and Workforce Development Committee is to convene key stakeholders across education and business to focus on strategies to develop a competitive and skilled workforce for jobs in demand in the tri-state region. This Committee, chaired by Allegany College of Maryland President, Cynthia Bambara, consists of regional college presidents, county school officials, workforce development specialists and local business representatives from across the region.
We meet 5 to 6 times a year to discuss best practices, share programs of work, and provide updates on grant opportunities, successes and achievements and opportunities for collaboration between the participants, their organizations and their students. We know from our members that these regular meetings provide a unique venue to work collectively and with a more unified approach on solving workforce issues which face all of our communities.
Of notable interest in 2019, were the following achievements from across the tri-state region:
Work Ethic Diploma Program: a partnership between the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce and Garrett County Public Schools. The Work Ethic Diploma Program was created to address the challenges of the business community to find reliable employees with the appropriate essential skills. To qualify for a Work Ethic Diploma, participating Garrett County students must earn a minimum of points in criteria such as Attendance, GPA, Community Service/Internship Project and Teamwork, among others. There is also an optional Drug Free component that will be noted on diplomas for participants meeting that criteria. Students who earn a Work Ethic Diploma benefit by receiving guaranteed job interviews from participating employers as long as they meet the related job qualifications and if hired receive at least a $.50/hour higher starting wage than an employee with the same skill set who has not earned the Work Ethic Diploma. Thirty-two students from Northern and Southern Garrett County High Schools graduated from the 2019 inaugural class with diplomas. Thirty-six local businesses signed commitment forms as partners. This program serves as an inspiration to the region and will continue to be a best practice model moving forward.
Tackling the Opioid Epidemic: A Community Resilience Approach project - Allegany College of Maryland (ACM) announced that the Maryland Opioid Operation Command Center (OOCC) has provided it with a prevention and education grant of $443,274 for this project. The OOCC grant will support evidence based therapeutic and educational services (educational events, workshops and mentorship opportunities) for more than 2,000 individuals in Allegany County and across the state through the ACM Center for Continuing Education and Workforce Development. Working closely with local opioid prevention and treatment programs, the Tackling the Opioid Epidemic project utilizes a stress and trauma-relief model developed by The Center for Mind-Body Medicine (CMBM) to build a culture of resilience and a community-wide support system. The project will teach simple but proven tactics that build personal resilience while reducing the stigma associated with addiction. It addresses the physiological and psychological root causes of addiction while introducing non-pharmacological approaches to address pain and chronic physical and mental illness.
SAGE: Students enrolled in West Virginia University Potomac State College’s Sustainable Agriculture Entrepreneurship (SAGE) program find themselves making apple cider, tapping trees for maple syrup production, cultivating indoor shiitake and oyster mushrooms, managing bees for honey production, and most recently growing lavender for profit. All this in addition to the management of livestock including goats, swine and cattle along with the operation of farming equipment that’s needed to maintain the College’s three farms. SAGE was created to give students a real-life, practical hands-on education and to prepare young farmers with an entrepreneurial mindset in the ever-changing ‘farm-to-table’ landscape. Students learn about biological processes in commodity and specialty crops and livestock, conventional and progressive farming methods and materials, working with natural resources and the environment, and the value of building a sustainable brand and business venture.