Growing our own Workforce in Bend

The Bend Chamber’s Education-to-Employment Initiative

By: Katy Brooks, CEO Bend Chamber

A couple questions for you: How old were you when you got your first job? How many students do you know today who work as an intern, or at their first job while they’re still in school? The fact is that young people ages 16 to 24 make up 12 percent of the labor force, but accounted for 27 percent of Oregon’s unemployed in 2015, according to the State Employment Department.

This figure has implications not only to students, but long-term impacts to grow a workforce in Bend. With a 3.8 percent unemployment rate in Central Oregon, employers are scrambling to fill positions in a shrinking employee pool. Additionally, students are graduating without work experience, making it more difficult for them to qualify for jobs, or forcing employers to invest significant time and money to train them. Employers are now having to look outside the region for employees, taking on relocation costs, finding housing and competing with other market places to fill positions.


This is an issue the Bend Chamber and Better Together, a regional nonprofit focused on increasing student success, have joined forces to solve. Now a key initiative at the Bend Chamber of Commerce, we are a resource to help grow a pool of a local, qualified workforce, starting with our own students. The initiative, called Education-to-Employment (E2E) features a liaison at the chamber who will work with our nearly 1,300 members to connect businesses to Oregon State University Cascades and Central Oregon Community College student intern programs, the Bend-La Pine high schools and to a number of resource organizations who help train youth for trades.


In other words, the Bend Chamber is developing a one-stop-shop for employers interested in building their workforce right here in Bend from the ground, up.  The outcome will be a scalable internship and workforce development service that meets the needs of employers, while providing support and opportunity to Bend students to get experience and be ready to work when they graduate.


We at the chamber are thrilled to be a part of this regional effort that is being duplicated in Redmond, Madras and other communities across the state. Bend will continue to grow –we’ve all seen the projections. This initiative will reap benefits for Bend businesses and our young people to be better prepared and meet workforce needs far into the future.

Help us MATCH!

We’ve secured a $10,000 grant from the MCM Foundation contingent on our raising matching funds. We need community investments of up to $1,000 to receive this grant.  We need the communities help in meeting this goal.  Please take a moment to contribute to the E2E Intern Program by donating today!

Join the conversation!

Got something to add to this post? Please share it here...

Add a comment...

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Bend Chamber is actively supported by these Lead Investors


: : : : : Website Navigation : : : : :