An enthusiastic group of Columbia Gorge business leaders is working with the Port of The Dalles, Columbia Gorge Community College, The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce and other organizations to help enhance the region’s talent supply line through a regionally-based internship program.
Mid-Columbia Producers, Mid-Columbia Fire & Rescue, Griffith Motors, Insitu, Cloud Cap/UTC Technology, SDS Lumber Co., and Custom Interface are at the table, serving as the steering committee for Gorge Works Internship Program, an effort to build the Gorge workforce.
The program’s goal is to offer paid summer internships starting in the summer of 2018 and focusing on entry-level technician jobs.
The effort started when the Port of The Dalles was chosen to host a workshop on building your own workforce, put on by the organizers of McMinnville Works, which has been running its own successful internship program for five years. The workshop was one of four sponsored by the Oregon Talent Council and Oregon Regional Solutions.
The workshop helped us identify potential program assets, field a steering committee and begin taking early steps toward formation.
Since then, the steering committee has met twice to help further define what kind of program they think will work for the Gorge.
“It has been exciting to see the support our businesses are providing to Gorge Works,” says Kathy Ursprung, who is coordinating the Port’s efforts on the project. “The program absolutely must work for businesses, or it won’t be successful.”
The businesses are in the driver’s seat, with the triple goal of: 1. Helping meet the workforce needs of businesses. 2. Providing a meaningful and informative work experience for interns. 3. Spotlighting the Gorge as a great place to live and find career-level employment, hopefully encouraging local graduates to stay in the area and find meaningful work.
Gorge Works is structured a bit differently from most college-level internships. Interns must be 18 or older, but they do not have to be concurrently enrolled in an education program. The idea is to give the interns a chance to explore local career opportunities and employers a chance to evaluate potential employees, then explore what makes the most sense in terms of training opportunities. Training could include community college courses, apprenticeships, technical training, on-the-job training or something else.
The internships will include weekly Professional Development Workshops to help ensure they have the skills needed to succeed in the working world. Examples include: Marketing Yourself, Job Search Techniques, Workplace Expectations, Project Management and Civic Engagement.
The Gorge Works program will officially launch on Manufacturing Day, Oct. 6. 2017. Through the fall, the program will be promoted at regional schools and colleges, as well as through local media and employment programs. We will also be recruiting host sites during the fall.
Online internship applications will go live in mid-December. Hiring is scheduled for completion in April.