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Colleges, Employers Team up to Promote Internships at First Ever Summit

By George Lewis on July 16, 2019

The LVEDC Education and Talent Supply Council meeting in September 2018 to discuss the recently-completed talent supply study.

The LVEDC Education and Talent Supply Council discussing the talent supply study.

In a tight labor market, at a time when attracting and retaining talented workers is at the top of the list for many employers, internship programs are an effective way for businesses to tap the region’s talent pipeline.

Challenges for employers lie in structuring programs, establishing connections with colleges and universities to select the right interns, and understanding rules and regulations that apply to hiring student workers. These challenges have hampered some employers, especially smaller businesses, in using internships as part of their strategies to connect with the future workforce.

Recognizing a need to expand opportunities and deepen connections between employers and students, Lehigh Valley colleges and universities in conjunction with some of the region’s largest employers, Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation, and the LVEDC Education and Talent Supply Council have organized the region’s first ever Internship Summit, to be held on Tuesday, July 30, at Moravian College in Bethlehem.

“Connecting employers with talent was one of the main recommendations from our 2018 Education and Talent Supply study,” said Karianne Gelinas, LVEDC Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Research.

“Internships are the focus of one of the five working groups we established to address the study recommendations,” Gelinas said. “The summit concept was one of the first ideas to come out of the Internships working group based on the knowledge that employers, colleges, and students all are seeking to build stronger relationships.”

At the summit, employers will gain insights on how to build internship programs or improve the business value of existing programs. They will be able to talk directly with Lehigh Valley colleges and universities that place students with businesses, and with employers that have successfully used interns for many years.

In a survey conducted by the working group, employers identified the need for this type of event, at which they could learn from the best practices of others.

Demand was so strong that the event filled to capacity within a couple days after initial invitations were sent. Based on the response, the Internship working group and LVEDC Education and Talent Supply Council are considering options for future summits.

The Internship Summit is just one of the results produced by LVEDC Education and Talent Supply Council working groups. Other products include a series of networking events to support talent attraction and retention that kicks off Aug. 1 in Allentown, creation of career pathway guideline posters for area schools that will help students understand the educational requirements and earnings potential of in-demand occupations related to their career interests, and additional research with Lehigh Valley colleges and universities on recent graduates, current students in the talent pipeline, and alumni perceptions of Lehigh Valley.

“Talent is the biggest issue in economic development today,” Gelinas said.

“Businesses increasingly base location decisions on where they can find, or attract, talent,” she said. “Lehigh Valley is fortunate to have committed partners representing business, education, local government, and non-profit organizations that understand the importance of talent supply to our continued growth, and to the expansion of economic opportunity for everyone who calls Lehigh Valley home.”

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