Memphis Chamber launches expanded workforce development program, pairing teachers and companies

What’s happening: After a successful pilot program launched in 2022, the Greater Memphis Chamber has expanded its Teacher Externship Program for 2023. The workforce development initiative pairs 20 Memphis high school teachers with 19 companies, embedding the educators with local employers in order to gain a deeper understanding of job opportunities and workforce needs to then share with their students.

How it works: Each teacher extern accepted into the program receives a $2,500 stipend and a $200 gift card for classroom supplies. In return, the teachers spend 64 hours between Thursday, June 8, and the end of July “on the job,” as they job shadow employees, take part in facility tours, and participate in a variety of hands-on, job-related activities depending on their partner company’s field and industry. The intended effect is that each teacher walks away with a sense of how they can better prepare their students for a career or field of higher education after graduating high school.

Who’s participating: There are 19 local employers taking part in this year’s expanded program, ranging across a wide swath of various industries. Each teacher was paired according to their subject area. Participating employers include Bryce, Charles River Laboratories, Cigna, College Rover, Dunavant, Engineered Medical Systems, I-Bank, JM Smuckers, Lehman Roberts, Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare, MLGW, Nike, Peabody Hotel, Regional One, The ProGeny Place, The Redwing Group, Transnetyx, Turner Construction, and Youdle.

Why it’s important: “Teachers are the front door to the workforce,” says Amity Schuyler, chief innovation officer and senior vice president of Workforce Development for the Chamber. “Our companies value and understand the teacher’s role in shaping student career pathways and see the potential for this program to accelerate a student’s awareness of the opportunities in our region. This is why we’ve grown from three companies last year to 19 this year. As Ford’s BlueOval City and other huge projects come online, our businesses are leading from the front in career preparation, which is one of the most exciting developments in our education ecosystem in decades.”

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