The Herald-Dispatch

CHARLESTON - West Virginia business and education leaders announced this week they are joining forces to help ensure West Virginia students are "ready" for future success in their career.

The initiative, which is a collaboration between The Education Alliance and Leadership West Virginia and funded by grants from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and the Roy and Gwen Steeley Foundation, provides a "portrait" or "snapshot" of what a West Virginia Ready Graduate should look like - the knowledge, skills and characteristics high school graduates must possess to be successful, according to a news release from The Education Alliance.

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 West Virginia and Pat Kelly from the West Virginia 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, according to the release.

"Investing in our next generation is critical to the future success of West Virginia," said Curry, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia. "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 West Virginia Graduate Internship Program, we are proudly committed to helping prepare the state's future workforce through education."

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

The 2019 pilot will place interns at Toyota in Buffalo, West Virginia; Appalachian Power in Charleston; and Cabell Huntington Hospital in Huntington.

Officials said the interns will participate in a daylong training in May that focuses 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 in Huntington.

The Education Alliance announced that they plan to expand the internship program next year, with the goal of going statewide in the coming years.

"West Virginia has a bright future, and we want to ensure our students possess the skills necessary to be successful. The West Virginia Ready Graduate is a simple, easy-to-understand framework that specifies the knowledge, skills and characteristics students need to be successful," Amelia Courts, president and chief executive officer of The Education Alliance, said in the release. "The Alliance commends our business partners for their leadership in launching the innovative West Virginia Ready Internship Program. Through this partnership, West Virginia businesses will provide real-world learning opportunities for high school students."

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