Op-Ed: Harnessing the power of mentorship for businesses and students

By Dr. Telly Sellars, Jefferson Community & Technical College

The following op-ed was written by Dr. Telly Sellars, the Associate Vice President of Technical Education at Jefferson Community & Technical College.

From the very moment a student begins their education at Jefferson their success is our top priority. Success in students’ eyes may vary over the course of their educational journey, but from day one our definition of success never changes.

Success is ensuring that every student has the much-needed tools and skills to not only succeed in the classroom but, more importantly, to succeed in the high-quality jobs of today – and tomorrow.

There is a saying that goes, “it takes a village”, but what if it didn’t. What if it only took one person? A mentor.

January is National Mentoring Month, and I can’t think of a more perfect way to celebrate than in 2022. We are on the heels of what Governor Beshear recently called a year of “record-breaking economic growth,” illustrated by the fact that Kentucky has more than $11 billion — with a ‘b’ — in new economic investments and the Commonwealth is adding over 18,000 full-time jobs in a variety of industries.

At Jefferson, we are preparing our students to meet the increased need in these growing fields through apprenticeship/mentorship programs like bit502, KYFAME, Jefferson Built, Allied Health and Nursing.

Just look at bit502. A partnership between Jefferson, Code Louisville, and the Louisville Tech Alliance, bit502 provides students an opportunity to work, learn, and earn, studying Computer and Information Technologies while working for companies like Texas Roadhouse, General Electric Appliances, WayStar and Louisville Geek. Bit502 employers know what they need, so classes are focused on real world, on the job, transferable learning that participants can use and apply over the arc of their career — benefitting businesses of types along the way. 

But the real power of mentorship on businesses small, large and every size in between are lower recruitment and retention costs, as well as developing a highly skilled workforce that improve productivity, profitability and the bottom line, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Additionally, an Urban Institute study found that 80 percent of companies who invest in similar initiatives report that they are better able to hire and retain well-qualified applicants.  

Every student has a dream. Every student has the potential to succeed. What every student may not have is a leader/mentor in their chosen career field.

At Jefferson, we know dreams are not reached alone, which is why we continue to harness the power of mentoring and open doors for all students. We encourage businesses, nonprofits, and the like to joins us by considering a move to an apprenticeship style program. Not only will you be changing lives, but you’ll be expanding our region’s talent pool and likely building a bigger and better business in the process.

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