FRANKFORT — In response to the struggles Kentucky faces with its workforce shortage, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Workforce Center created the Bus to Business program to help develop the workforce of tomorrow.
The purpose of the program is to foster relationships between schools and Kentucky businesses in order to make students aware of the type of career pathways available to them in their own communities. The program also allows businesses to engage with their future workforce and begin mentoring and developing relationships with students for a role at the company at a young age.
The Bus to Business program launched on Oct. 2, 2019, as a one-day field trip event where students from 30 different schools visited 32 businesses in their community, meeting with the leaders and learning more about the career opportunities available after graduation. This year, in response to the shift to online schooling statewide, Bus to Business has shifted to an entirely virtual format that will run for the duration of the 2020-2021 school year. The Workforce Center launched the virtual Bus to Business program in October 2020 and has already reached over 14,700 students across the state.
While the format of the program has changed, its goal has not. Through the virtual format, students are able to engage with industry leaders by participating in live sessions with businesses across the state, watching video tours of companies or interviews with industry professionals on the Kentucky Chamber YouTube page, learning about critical jobs in Kentucky, understanding what higher education or certifications they will need to pursue in order to be competitive in their desired field, as well as being connected with businesses who offer earn and learn programs both during and after high school.
“I listened to the engineers the most because that is the career I wish to pursue. I was able to hear about the education they acquired and what their everyday life is like as engineers,” said Elkhorn Crossing School sophomore Caroline Lyons about her Bus to Business experience at the Georgetown Toyota plant last year. “To me, it’s important for all students to have interactions with employers because it allows them access to information and it may help them figure out what careers they wish to pursue.”
“We are excited to expand the reach of the Bus to Business program to more students across Kentucky through this school year’s virtual program. We are thrilled to provide students with more opportunities and resources to get exposure to the exciting career opportunities across the Commonwealth,” said Harper Smith, manager of the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center.
Sign up online at kychamber.com/bustobusiness to become a part of Bus to Business 2020-2021.