BEREA, OH— Vitamix President and CEO Dr. Jodi Berg saw a need in the local community to help young people who want to pursue post-secondary education but who, for various reasons, still need to maintain a steady income.
Many in that situation find themselves having to choose between work and school. Berg’s solution was to give them a chance to do both. She and her company, based outside of Cleveland, Ohio, achieved that by teaming up with nearby Baldwin Wallace University.
Navigating critical work-life balance
A new BW-Vitamix workforce education partnership, called “Learn and Earn,” affords young workers the opportunity to join the Vitamix Supply Chain team and spend a part of their time at work each day earning a new Bachelor of Applied Business degree, which recently received approval from the State of Ohio Board of Regents.
The income-vs-schooling dilemma was not the only obstacle for many potential new Vitamix employees, says Berg.
“A good number of these young people simply don’t know how to apply for college or, once they get there, how to study and learn,” she noted. “This program allows them to earn an income while furthering their education, but it also gives them the coaching and mentoring they need to succeed. It helps to solve a life-balance problem that prevents many young adults from ever earning a degree.”
New approach to workforce development
A team housed in the BW Provost’s Office, is charged with thinking out of the box about business partnerships such as Earn and Learn.
“We take a consultative approach with businesses,” explained BW Provost Dr. Stephen Stahl. “We undertook the challenge at Vitamix as we do with all of our business partners, working side by side as a true collaborator, listening and working to create beneficial, multifaceted solutions that address their needs and build a solid foundation for success.”
Re-imagining the work-study model
BW and Vitamix worked together to create the innovative, onsite, workday course delivery model, as well as on the degree itself, which won state approval on March 3.
Employees spend 30 hours a week on the job within Vitamix’s fast-paced production environment. The remaining 10 hours—two hours each day—are set aside to focus on the employee’s academic career, which may include virtual or in-person lectures from BW faculty, homework, or self-guided instruction with support from Vitamix and BW staff.
“One of the keys to this program is our ability to offer a shift schedule in which student-workers can start and end their workdays together,” said Berg.
Employees who qualify for full financial aid could have no out-of-pocket expenses.
Custom training partnerships
The Learn and Earn program model is one that Stahl says can be applied to other companies looking to recruit, build and retain a skilled workforce. While the applied business degree is the initial offering, the partners envision adding program tracks that lead to certificates or bachelor’s degrees in a range of different fields.
“We realize there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to every organizational challenge,” Stahl offered. “BW now has a strong, more intuitive partnership model with a track record of success.”
The effort to redefine and innovate new possibilities for university-organizational partnerships grew out of BW’s current strategic plan, which calls for the University to be “positioned as an essential partner in the economic and community development of Northeast Ohio and beyond.”
“BW has a long history of collaborating with area companies on custom training and consulting provided by our world-class faculty,” said Stahl. “We are now building on that tradition.”
Find out more
For information about the BW’s custom education solutions, contact the Office of the Provost/Academic Affairs www.bw.edu/about/offices/academic-affairs
For information or to apply for a position in Vitamix’s Learn and Earn program, visit www.bw.edu/academics/vitamix