The Blount Partnership is an economic development agency which represents the cities of Alcoa, Maryville, and Blount County in the state of Tennessee. The agency, which is funded by the three participating government entities, aims to bring investments and create jobs in the area it serves. The youth unemployment rate in the county served by the Blount Partnership is 24.2%. As a participant in the Alcoa Foundation’s Global Internship Program for Unemployed Youth, Blount Partnership will receive $125,000 to provide a customized workforce development program for 60 unemployed youth. To deliver the program, the Blount Partnership will collaborate with the Adult Education Foundation of Blount County.
The Blount Partnership workforce development program will consists of three modules:
The program will begin with a two-week Workforce Readiness and Counseling module. During the two weeks, participants will meet for four hours per day, five days a week for a total of 40 hours. The focus of this portion of the program will be on the development of soft skills such as communication skills, time management, acting as a team player, and accepting and learning from criticism. Instruction will come from a variety of sources, but a primary source will be role play, incorporating a variety of employment-setting scenarios. The Blount Partnership instructors will run through different simulations with the participants followed by discussions about appropriate responses to each situation. Over time, the instructors will enable participants to learn appropriate professional conduct for a variety of common employment situations.
In addition, during this module, participants will begin to prepare for the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) test. NCRC is a certificate that verifies to employers that an individual has the essential core employability skills to be successful in the workplace. Topics for the NCRC include reading for information, applied mathematics, and locating information. The preparation for the NCRC test will also be a means to improving math and problem solving skills that can be important in a manufacturing setting.
In the second module, participants will complete a 100 hour (minimum) internship experience with a manufacturer. Participants will be given a choice of internship opportunities and will be able to select based on their interest. The internships will primarily take place at small to medium-sized manufacturing companies, with special emphasis placed on minority and woman-owned businesses. During the internship, participants will be introduced to the manufacturing environment, be exposed to at least two different areas of the manufacturing process, and learn in the areas of job safety and project work.
The third module, Career Planning and Placement, will span approximately five weeks. During this module, Blount Partnership staff will assist participants with preparing their resumes. The just-completed internships and any specific certifications obtained from the internship will be reflected on the resume. Career counselors will guide participants through the job search process. Sources for this will include job search web sites, job listings through the Blount Partnership Career Center, community contacts maintained by counselors and staff, and newspapers.
In addition, organization staff will conduct mock interviews with participants. The interviews will be video-taped and subsequently analyzed and discussed in order to help participants learn how to successfully manage the job interview process.
Throughout the third module, participants will continue to study for the NCRC, making progress toward readiness for testing. A proctor will come to the Blount Partnership site during the last week of the module to administer the NCRC test. Students will have results the next day and resumes will be updated to incorporate this new credential.
The program will conclude with a mandatory Career Fair comprised of the companies that hosted the internships as well as other local manufacturers. Through this experience, participants will have the opportunity to network with potential employers and apply for positions in the manufacturing field.
Online photos of the Blount Partnership:
The Blount Partnership Gallery