Building A Career Ready Workforce

A few weeks ago Bill Daggett, the Founder and Chairman of the International Center for Leadership in Education, spoke at Fredonia and Maple Grove school districts on the topic of preparing students for future success. I had the opportunity to hear him deliver an evening presentation at Maple Grove and it was a powerful message. He spoke about the accelerating impact of technology and how it is quickly changing the skill set that our children will need to acquire to be career ready. Our educational institutions struggle to change at the same pace as technology, creating a gap between the skill sets required for today’s economy and the skills sets acquired in our learning institutions. An excellent point made by Daggett is that it is not that schools are failing it is that they are not keeping up with change.

Daggett makes the point that, “the current system was designed for a different set of outcomes, a different set of students in preparation for a different future.” Daggett notes that the first industrial revolution had a transformative impact on the model of public education. Like industry at that time, education adapted a very specialized approach to education. The good example of this specialization is how we learn the sciences. Traditionally we learn the sciences in a specific order and separate from each other. In 9th grade we started with the physical sciences, 10th grade biology, 11th grade chemistry and 12th grade physics. The sciences have been taught in silos, separate from each other. However as technology rapidly changes what we have witnessed is an integration of the physical, biological and digital worlds. Think for a minute about your cell phone and the developments in nanotechnology and biotechnology that are occurring. The skill sets required of the employees that support those emerging industries beg for a different approach in how our learning institutions teach. It is not so important that today’s worker or the future worker memorize equations, tables of data or specific historical facts, it is more important that the worker be resourceful and able to analyze, evaluate and create. A significant amount of testing over the years has focused on how much we could memorize, yet the top five skills required of today’s and tomorrow’s worker are complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, people management, and the ability to coordinate with others.

Our schools have significant challenges and opportunities in their journey as they seek to transform into places where students become career ready. It will take strong leadership, the buy-in of educators, the support of school boards and importantly the encouragement and backing of parents and the business community. We applaud Fredonia and Maple Grove for bringing Mr. Dagget to the community as well as other school districts such as Frewsburg and Southwestern that brought him to their schools in prior years. To learn more about Bill Daggett and the International Center for Leadership In Education go to


Chamber members and non-members alike are invited to attend the upcoming annual Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce Federal Congressional Luncheon on March 2. We encourage Chamber members and the public to come with questions for Congressman Tom Reed during this event. All questions must be submitted in writing.

This annual event will be held at Chautauqua Suites Meeting and Expo Center, 215 West Lake Road, Mayville. Check in begins at noon, with lunch at 12:15 and the program to follow. The Chamber’s Federal Congressional Luncheon is sponsored by: Advanced Manufacturing Technology, DFT Communications, Fredonia College Foundation, Jamestown Mattress Company, Nestle Purina PetCare, OBSERVER, “The Post”-Journal, and UPMC Chautauqua WCA. To register, please call the Chamber at (716) 484-1101 or (716) 366-6200 or visit our website at


One of the premier STEM events in Southwestern New York is set for March 14 at Jamestown Community College. STEM Wars will take place once again this year in the JCC Physical Education Complex on JCC’s Jamestown campus. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, and represents the core skill sets for careers of the future. Hundreds of students from around the region will participate in a fun and educational event, featuring STEM activities, competitions, a local business and manufacturing career fair, and on-site tem building/leadership skills projects.

The lead sponsor for STEM Wars this year is MATCO Tools. It is co-presented by Dream It Do It Western New York (DIDIWNY), the New York State Technology and Engineering Educators’ Association (NYSTEEA) Chautauqua County Chapter, and Jamestown Community College. STEM Wars is produced with support from the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce (CCCC), The Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier (MAST) and Pathways in Technology Early College High School (PTECH). Additional sponsors include Clark Patterson Lee as Video Sponsors, Monofrax, Weber Knapp, Nestle Purina, Excelco/Newbrook, Cummins JEP, Fancher Chair, Bailey Manufacturing Company and Truck-Lite as Gold Sponsors, Artone LCC, Allen Industrial Sales and The Resource Center Allied Division as Silver Sponsors and Blackstone Advanced Technology, Jamestown Container and Ripley Machine & tool as Bronze Sponsors.

There is still room for local manufacturers to participate in the career fair, and room for more schools to sign up. For more information, contact Dream It Do It in Chautauqua County at (716) 484-1101.


If you have paper checks from the long standing Chamber gift check program, please use them prior to their expiration date. All of these paper checks expire one year from the date of issuance. Due to our transition to the Shoptauqua Gift Card program, the old account for redeeming those checks will be closed September 30, 2018. After that date those checks can no longer be redeemed. Chamber members who previously accepted gift checks should continue to accept them through September. Once the account is closed those checks can no longer be honored.