Blount Partnership and Alcoa Foundation providing internships for unemployed youth

MARYVILLE, Tenn. (Submitted) -- In late 2013, the Institute of International Education and Alcoa Foundation announced a grant of $125,000 to the Blount Partnership.

This grant is part of a $1.25 million Alcoa initiative to provide workforce readiness training, paid internships with local manufacturers, and career planning and placement for 500 unemployed youth (ages 18 to 24) in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Jamaica, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. The goal is to equip unemployed youth with the skills and experience to start successful careers in manufacturing.

The Blount Partnership is Blount County, Tennessee’s only economic development organization. The organization represents the combining of resources, stake holders, political influence, and public/private board responsibilities into one cohesive unit. The Blount County Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Board, the Smoky Mountain Tourism Authority, and the Blount County Chamber Foundation are the enabling bodies of the Blount Partnership.

The youth unemployment rate in the county served by the Blount Partnership is 24.2 percent. As a participant in Alcoa Foundation’s Global Internship Program for Unemployed Youth, Blount Partnership will receive $125,000 to provide a customized workforce development program for 60 unemployed youth. To deliver the program, the Blount Partnership is collaborating with the Adult Education Foundation of Blount County.

The workforce development program consists of three modules:

The program begins with a two-week Workforce Readiness and Counseling module. During the two weeks, participants meet four hours per day, five days a week for a total of 40 hours. The focus of this portion of the program will be on the development of communication skills, time management, being a team player, and accepting and learning from criticism. In addition, during this module, participants prepare for the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) test.

In the second module, participants complete a 100 hour (minimum) internship experience with a manufacturer. Participants are given a choice of internship opportunities from a variety of local manufacturers and are able to select based on their interest. The internships primarily take place at small to medium-sized manufacturing companies, with special emphasis placed on minority and woman-owned businesses.

The third module, Career Planning and Placement, spans approximately three weeks. During this module, Blount Partnership staff assists participants with preparing their resumes. The just-completed internships and any specific certifications obtained from the internship will be reflected on the resume. Career counselors guide participants through the job search process.

Throughout the third module, participants continue to study for the NCRC, making progress toward readiness for testing.

The program concludes with a career fair comprised of the companies that hosted the internships as well as other local manufacturers. Through this experience, participants have the opportunity to network with potential employers and apply for positions in the manufacturing field.

“We are excited to be able to offer this opportunity to young adults in Blount County. Careers in manufacturing offer the potential for a satisfying and profitable career. We are grateful to Alcoa, Inc. and the other area manufactures who are participating in this project,” said Rachel Ragland, Blount Partnership Director of Economic & Workforce Development.

“We are pleased to be a participating manufacturer and offer internships through this program, said Bob Myers, Alcoa Tennessee Operations Human Resources Manager. “Currently we see gaps in employee basic skills, such as reading and following directions, tape measuring and working through problems. This program has the potential to help build a very skilled and qualified workforce for the future.”

Alcoa Foundation’s Global Internship Program for Unemployed Youth Partners
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About Alcoa Foundation
Alcoa Foundation is one of the largest corporate foundations in the U.S., with assets of approximately US$446 million. Founded 60 years ago, Alcoa Foundation has invested more than $570 million since 1952. In 2012, Alcoa Foundation contributed more than $21 million to nonprofit organizations throughout the world, building innovative partnerships to improve the environment and educate tomorrow's leaders for careers in manufacturing and engineering. The work of Alcoa Foundation is further enhanced by Alcoa's thousands of employee volunteers who share their talents and time to make a difference in the communities where Alcoa operates. Through the Company's signature Month of Service program, in 2013, a record 62 percent of Alcoa employees took part in nearly 1,300 events across 24 countries, benefiting more than 505,000 people and 1,900 nonprofit organizations. More information can be found at

Alcoa’s Tennessee Operations is the world’s largest producer of rolled aluminum can sheet for beverage cans and is based in Blount County, Tennessee. Locally, it employs more than 1,000 at its fabrication plants in Blount County and its downtown Knoxville office.

About the Institute of International Education
Founded in 1919, the Institute of International Education (IIE) is a private not-for-profit leader in the international exchange of people and ideas. In collaboration with governments, foundations and other sponsors, IIE creates programs of study and training for students, educators and professionals from all sectors. These programs include the flagship Fulbright Program and Gilman Scholarships administered for the U.S. Department of State. IIE also conducts policy research, provides resources on international exchange opportunities and offers support to students and scholars in danger. For more information, visit

Since receiving the grant, the course curriculum has been developed. The first round of interns has completed the Workforce Readiness and Counseling module and have started their internships.


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