West Virginia Executive Summer 2014 - Page 50

The program is also of great benefit to businesses. “We have found internships to be a win-win for both Kureha and the interns,” says Tom Provost, executive vice president for Kureha PGA LLC. “Kureha wins by getting to test-drive talent and increase productivity with additional short-term manpower at an attractive cost, and interns have augmented the abilities of Kureha’s work force with fresh ideas and specialized skill sets. We have found that these internships are a way to find future employees, support students investigating a career in chemical plants, give back to the community and increase employee retention by investing in their future.” Not only do participating companies know their incumbent workers are ready to work, but partnering with community colleges provides positive public exposure for business and industry. Learn and Earn also allows companies to be proactive in their hiring. While a business may not have an immediate employment need, the internship serves as a type of prolonged interview process. Dow Chemical Company has a long-standing Learn and Earn partnership with BridgeValley Community and Technical College. “The Learn and Earn program supports us in our strategic staffing planning, enabling us to hire ahead of attrition to meet our future work force needs,” says Dow Chemical’s Michael Sirockman. “We are able to provide great employment opportunities while continuing to operate safely and sustainably.” Being able to hire ahead of attrition has become increasingly important in West Virginia. With an aging work force population, retirements are creating significant shortages for employers. Companies that participate in the Learn and Earn program get a leg up on competing businesses when it comes to hiring because they have already built relationships with potential employees through the cooperative training. Tailor-Made for Success The structure of the program is flexible so that it can be tailored to meet the needs of both the student and the company. In some instances, businesses prefer that students work three days a week while attending classes two days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. At DuPont, students from West Virginia University at Parkersburg attend classes for 10 weeks and then co-op for 10 weeks until they complete their chemical and polymer operating technology program. Regardless of the model, the program provides students with the opportunity to apply what they have learned in class to real-world work experiences. “The Learn and Earn program provides a great hands-on work experience opportunity to the students, which gives them a solid process technology foundation and aides in providing a potential pipeline of skilled candidates into the work force,” says Todd Fox, resource manager at DuPont. This experience can help students make sure their chosen career path is right for them. It also provides valuable resumé-bu ilding credentials and gets their foot in the door with a possible future employer. To be a true cooperative experience, the community college and the employer work closely together to ensure the pacing of the instruction and the work experience complement each other. Students’ hands-on experiences are tied to learning outcomes that count for course credit as part of their academic program. Artfully crafted. Efficiently powered. Affordable natural gas is enabling West Virginia’s Blenko Glass to invest in its staff and facilities. Think about it. 50 west virginia executive