The Batesville Community Education Foundation (BCEF) held the second annual workforce development round table. The Bulldog Connections event consisted of a workforce development roundtable, followed by a job fair for Batesville High School students with the sponsors of the Batesville Community Education Foundation who chose to participate. 

“BCEF developed this event with a two-fold goal,” BCEF executive director Anne Wilson said. “To thank its sponsors by providing them access to the school administration for a collaborative workforce development discussion and to connect our BHS students to the same employers for future jobs.”
 Roundtable participants included Batesville Community School Corporation Superintendent Paul Ketcham, BHS principal Andy Allen, BHS guidance counselor Jen Steinkamp, BHS Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) coordinator Jordan May, BHS students Lindsey White and Landon Gutzwiller, BCEF Executive Director Anne Wilson, board members Jama Linkel-Cleghorn, Sammie Hardebeck and Ashley Walls.

The representatives from the BCEF sponsors included Batesville McDonald’s, Batesville Tool and Die, Enneking Auto Body, First Financial Bank, Global Atlantic Financial Group, Hillenbrand, Hillrom, New Point Stone Co. and Ollier Masonry.

The roundtable provided BCEF with an opportunity to share more about the non-profit organization. BCEF is separate from BCSC and consists of a 17-member board of directors, a part-time executive director, and a BHS mentorship student (who shared a presentation during the event). The mission of BCEF is “to provide innovative learning opportunities that go beyond the basics in academics, arts and athletics at BCSC.”

BCEF shared funding support comes from corporate sponsors (42%) and public donations (58%) The BCEF presentation also familiarized the new online career network sponsors with Bulldogs Connect, where all BHS students can find a career mentor and local businesses can post jobs that BHS alumni and students can view.

At the last workforce roundtable in 2019, it was suggested by sponsors students have more formal training in Microsoft Excel, which is a critical need for many jobs. Based on that recommendation, BHS embedded various Excel assignments into the curriculum for all grade levels. During this year’s discussion, sponsors touched on the widespread lack of available workers, as well as the need for students to understand employment expectations, such as proper business communications and interviewing and hiring procedures. In addition, ways to expose students from K-12 to what each local business industry does —via age-appropriate activities—were suggested. By the time they get to high school, students have a more profound knowledge of the types of jobs available. BCEF and BCSC will review these recommendations and determine how best to implement them.

During the job fair portion, these additional sponsor businesses attended: Batesville (Casket Company), Ison’s Family Pizza, Margaret Mary Health, and The Waters of Batesville. Each business set up a table and provided students with job opportunities such as after-school or summer employment, positions available right after high school, or general information for employment in the future. Student attendees were divided into groups: first, a small group of students graduating this year but are unsure of their plans were able to visit with the sponsors; next, any BHS senior who wanted to attend, and finally, any sophomores and juniors who wanted to learn more. Wilson explained additional benefits the job fair offers BHS students.

“The job fair is a chance for BHS students to connect directly with local businesses for employment,” Wilson said. “Our goal at BCEF is to provide enough ‘outside-the-box’ opportunities so that a BHS diploma provides the students with an advantage—that it means businesses know that our students are well-rounded and exceptionally prepared for whatever they decide to do after high school. Many high school students have no idea what they want to do after graduation. This event brings businesses who are already passionate about education and our school system to the students, giving students a chance to ask questions and make connections.”

After the debut of the event in 2019, even with a year pause due to the onset of COVID-19, the event is flourishing. “This event, and our sponsorship program, has grown dramatically, which is a testament to how much the community of Batesville values education,” Wilson explained. “When we started the BCEF corporate sponsorship program in 2016-17, we had nine sponsors. That list has grown to 36 sponsors this year. Our sponsorship levels begin at $500, and any BCEF sponsor at any level is invited to this event. However, a business MUST be a BCEF sponsor to attend. It’s a thank-you gift from BCEF for their financial support, which provides roughly 42% of our funding. Many of our sponsors said they decided to support BCEF specifically due to this event.”