A year ago, SOCHE – the Southwestern Ohio Council on Higher Education - launched and initiative to increase the number of internships in the region. It’s called the 20-by-20 challenge, and its goal is to create 20,000 internships by 2020.
After one year, SOCHE Executive Director Sean Creighton says the 20x20 challenge has increased the number of internships in southwest Ohio. A modest 7.1 percent – that’s almost 800 new internships, but Creighton says the program is trending in the right direction.
He says, "We’re still coming out of an economic crises, with some of the discussions going on around federal funding and people are a little hesitant. We have a large community of defense contractors and others who are kind of waiting a little bit. But we’ve certainly been in contact with them and they’re anxious to start to develop their own programs further. So, the 7% growth in the first year we’re really pleased with."
The increase in internships in Southwest Ohio is inline with national statistics, and Creighton says as they move into year two of the challenge, SOCHE will continue to strengthen and evolve partnerships between the private sector and higher education. Unemployment is still high, and Creighton see programs like the 20X20 challenge as part of the solution.
Creighton says that "When we talk about the fact that we have over 120000 students studying in this region, that’s a remarkable number. People suddenly, their eyes open up wide and they recognize, wow you know the workforce is here. It’s a matter of building that relationship between companies and students, while the students are still in school."
Creighton says four out of ten college graduates never conduct formal job-searches when they graduate because their paid internships become full-time career positions. And he says interns who become full-time employees tend to stay longer with the company where they interned. He believes that as more companies realize the benefits of internship programs, the 20X20 challenge will meet its goal.