West Virginia business and education leaders announced Wednesday they are joining forces to help ensure students throughout the state are “ready” for future success in their career. 

The initiative, a collaboration between The Education Alliance and Leadership West Virginia funded by a grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and the Roy and Gwen Steeley Foundation, provides a “portrait” or “snapshot” of what a “WV Ready Graduate” should look like — the knowledge, skills, and characteristics high school graduates must possess to be successful.

Education Alliance officials reported over the past year a working group, made up of business and education leaders from around the state and co-chaired by Leah Curry from Toyota Motor Manufacturing WV and Pat Kelly from the WV Hospital Association, studied current business hiring criteria, promotion criteria, and college admissions criteria as well as other research to develop a clear picture of the needed skill sets.

“Investing in our next generation is critical to the future success of West Virginia,” said Leah Curry, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, West Virginia (TMMWV). “It is critical that business and community members step forward to prepare our future workforce. Toyota believes that every child deserves a chance at success and by investing in the WV Graduate Internship program, we are proudly committed to helping prepare the state’s future workforce through education.”

The Education Alliance also announced the launch of the WV Ready Internship Program pilot, a four-week, paid summer internship for rising high school juniors and seniors within West Virginia businesses.

The 2019 pilot will place interns at Toyota Motor Manufacturing WV (Buffalo), Appalachian Power (Charleston), and Cabell Huntington Hospital (Huntington), and the interns will participate in a daylong training in May focusing on soft-skill development, weekly virtual cohort meetings throughout their internship period, and complete a final presentation on their internship experience at the conclusion of their internship.

Upon completion of all required internship responsibilities, the students will receive college credit from Mountwest Community and Technical College.

Education Alliance officials reported they plan to expand the internship program next year with the goal of going statewide in the upcoming years. 

Dr. Amelia Courts, president and chief executive officer of the Education Alliance, said West Virginia has a bright future, and the Education Alliance wants to ensure students possess the skills necessary to be successful. 

“The WV Ready Graduate is a simple, easy-to-understand framework that specifies the knowledge, skills and characteristics students need to be successful,” she said. “The Alliance commends our business partners for their leadership in launching the innovative WV Ready Internship Program.

“Through this partnership, West Virginia businesses will provide real-world learning opportunities for high school students.”

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