High School graduation is upon us, and area chambers of commerce are presenting some valuable scholarships to distinguished local students. For example, the Brewster, Cold Spring and Patterson chambers have various scholarships, the Carmel-Kent Chamber is giving three $1000 awards, and the Greater Mahopac-Carmel Chamber has awarded a total of $16,000 funded by the direct contributions of member businesses. The selection criteria for such scholarships varies, and is determined by committees who review the various candidates.
Some consideration these days is being given to young adults who have chosen community college or a trade as opposed to a four-year school. Not everyone is destined to get an MBA and become a major corporation executive. Someone needs to learn the hands-on, practical skills to build homes, cars, devices, and work in the trades or in a factory. Also, entrepreneurs and small businesses are the backbone of our economy; and those folks come from an eclectic background of early experiences.
It makes sense that we as business people should encourage interest in the trades, for small business and industry. Trades are looking for motivated employees who are not “institutional education” inclined, but in today’s real world additional technical training and basic business practices are necessary for success. Chambers of commerce everywhere are searching for appropriate apprenticeship programs in cooperation with unions and trades groups.
A thought about the Minimum Wage: while it may be advisable to consider a higher standard for entry level employees, we must consider the impact of a minimum wage increase on small businesses, especially smaller manufacturing companies which struggle to compete globally, and seasonal businesses. Incorrect application of the minimum wage standard may make it impossible for some businesses to compete with entry level jobs which require less rigorous training and commitment on the part of workers, leading to less available jobs in the long run.
– Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce