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Turning Innovation Into Enterprise


Charleston Area Alliance Hosts Educator|Industry Institute

CAA LogoEducators from the Kanawha Valley met recently with leaders in innovation and industry as part of the Charleston Area Alliance’s (CAA) second annual Educator | Industry Institute (E|II).  Designed to fill a gap recognized by the CAA between classroom and industry, the E|II provides an opportunity for teachers to learn firsthand about the education, skills and training needed by students for good jobs in this region and the state.  The two-week program included presentations, panel discussions, and tours of area companies and plants, including Kureha, Gestamp and Maggie’s Salsa.

Cullen Naumoff, Vision 2030 Project Director at the Charleston Area Alliance, notes “The Educator | Industry Institute is proving to be a valuable forum for those training our future workforce and those hiring our future workforce.  A dialogue often overlooked, but of upmost importance.  Educators are gaining insights to the varied professions available in the Kanawha Valley, while industry professionals are hearing about more targeted channels to aid in student development.”

Anne Barth, Executive Director of TechConnect West Virginia, addressed the group at its opening session on July 8, focusing on the types of jobs available in the technology and innovation sectors and the skill sets needed to fill them. She also offered ideas on various training programs that can help prepare students for tech-based jobs.

“TechConnect works to develop four targeted technology sectors—advanced energy, biotechnology, chemicals and advanced materials, and biometrics/identity management.  I shared ideas about potential jobs in these sectors with the teachers, who were clearly passionate about the goals of the Institute,” Barth said.

“It was evident to me that these educators were there during summer break because they want to know more about the jobs available for their students in this region and the state.  They were eager to hear about the variety of career planning and preparation resources, websites, and other information that can benefit students,” Barth said.

About 30 educators attend the event, which is designed to improve communications between industry and the education system. E|II, which was first piloted in July 2012, is designed as an eight-day seminar in which each day focuses on a different industry sector.  Morning seminars give educators an industry overview, complemented by afternoon tours on-site at a company or manufacturing facility.  Educators receive a $400 stipend for completing the Institute. For more information, contact