SHERIDAN — Plans to establish a comprehensive local internship program took another step forward Thursday at the monthly workforce development meeting of the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce.
An attempt to more effectively pair businesses with potential interns, the Chamber subcommittee is working to aggregate existing resources and become a sort of intermediary for both parties.
While several internship programs already exist at local high schools, Chamber representatives hope to expand those programs and create more easily accessible opportunities for college students and existing members of the workforce. Their hope is that the program will allow residents to expand their skill set and help grow the local economy over the long term.
“It just seemed like, looking at the community, there was something we could do to help,” committee chair Stacia Skretteberg said.
No specific plans have been formalized, but committee members have begun considering a framework for the program that they believe will allow for maximum flexibility for both businesses and interns.
Issues including labor standards, liability concerns and confidentiality standards were at the forefront of Thursday’s discussion as committee members worked to further conceptualize the program.
“The idea sounds great, but you get down to the nuts and bolds of it, and we really don’t know (how it will work) ,” Skretteberg said.
While specifics are still largely unknown, committee members said their ultimate goal is to allow interested Sheridan-area residents to become more versatile members of the local workforce.
For now, the committee is focused on compiling resources such as internship applications, agreements and a set of questions to help match businesses with interns whose interests and abilities best suit their operation.
Once aggregated, committee members expect to begin acting as a hub between the two parties.
The program will likely be housed primarily on the Chamber’s website.
While specialized concerns such as industry-specific legal requirements will remain the responsibility of the businesses themselves, Chamber representatives said they hope the forthcoming program will serve as a helpful starting point for companies that, while they might be interested in taking on an intern, have limited experience in actually doing so.
“We’ll want to keep this fairly generic at first,” Chamber Executive Director Dixie Johnson said. “Our role is really to help bring the resources — whatever they are — together.”
Before the committee’s next meeting, Skretteberg said she plans on reaching out to area business owners in the hopes that they will attend later meetings on the project and contribute to the group’s planning process.