Did you know that Maryland ranks in the top 5 states for opioid-related overdose deaths? It seems that all sectors of our workforce, in every corner of our state, have felt the effects of this insidious epidemic.
That’s why the Maryland Chamber Foundation was pleased to be a part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s “Sharing Solutions” Tour—a national grassroots tour to the parts of our country that have been hit the hardest by the opioid crisis.
When the tour stopped at the Hilton Garden Inn in Frederick, MD, on October 9, our staff had the opportunity to listen to a powerhouse panel of addiction experts and other individuals in corporate America who are stepping up and doing their part to battle the crisis.
Reducing the stigma of the disease of addiction, assisting employees who are in recovery, and investing in employee education are all ways, among others, the business community is making a difference in Maryland.
On October 16, our president and CEO, Christine Ross, headed to our nation’s capital to participate in the “America Working Forward: Hidden Workforce” panel at American University. The panel also included representatives from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the Department of Justice, Law and Criminology at AU’s School of Public Affairs, as well as U.S. Rep. David Trone, co-founder of the Bethesda-based Total Wine & More and a proponent of private initiatives to rehabilitate and employ ex-convicts. The panel discussed programs that give incarcerated individuals and those with a criminal record a chance to reenter America’s workforce, as well as employer protections and incentives to hire.
Here at the Chamber Foundation, we have convened a Second Chance Task Force to bring together justice reform advocates and the business community to address the challenges faced by the ex-offender community as these individuals seek employment post-incarceration, and to investigate how to increase employment and reduce recidivism among this vulnerable population.
Earlier this month, Chamber staff visited correctional institutions to learn about their training programs for the incarcerated. We will continue those visits next month as well.
Members of the General Assembly have already expressed interest in the work we are doing in this area, and we look forward to sharing more with them once the 2020 legislative session kicks off in January.
We are trying to gauge our members’ interest in issues affecting workforce development. Please take a moment to answer our brief survey on the topic.
Last summer, we were pleased to launch our pilot Teacher Externship Program, a four-week summer program that connects Maryland teachers with business partners and provides hands-on experience in industries related to the subjects they teach. We placed three teacher externs at manufacturing companies Stanley Black & Decker, Volvo and Toroid. The externs were paid a $6,500 stipend and created lasting collaborative relationships with their partner companies.
Christopher Bunn, the Technology Education Department Chair at Patapsco High School & Center for the Arts in Dundalk, completed his externship at Stanley Black & Decker. He called his time there “a fantastic opportunity” to gain direct experience in the manufacturing world.
On October 11, Christine Ross presented a video and PowerPoint presentation about the externships to the Governor’s Manufacturing Advisory Board at Morgan State University. The presentation generated a lot of buzz in the room, and McCormick and TIC Gums volunteered to take on teacher externs next summer.
What’s more, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) has agreed to give participating teachers up to four continuing professional development (CPD) credits, which is a testament to the strength of this meaningful program.
With the support of local economic development agencies and generous donors, we hope to keep the program running throughout 2020. Keep an eye out for our Summer 2020 Teacher Externship application, which will go live on the MDCC website next month!
To learn more about teacher externships, click here.