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Increased involvement from the business community is being sought in an initiative designed to improve communication between public school educators and employers in Wilkes County.

The Business Industry Education Forum (BIEF) was started last October when representatives of some of the largest companies in Wilkes were invited to a discussion of workforce needs and issues in the county.Organizers were April Marr, career development coordinator for the Wilkes schools; Todd Williams, career and technical education director for the Wilkes schools; and Mike Pierce, workforce development chairman and lead advanced materials instructor at Wilkes Community College (WCC).Representatives of about 25 local businesses are participating in quarterly BIEF meetings, but Ms. Marr said goals this coming year include having more companies represented.In the meetings, company representatives talk about the technical and “soft” skills they want employees to possess. Soft skills include ability to communicate and work with others, appropriate attire and expectations and more.The meetings also include discussion of the Wilkes school curriculum and how well it addresses workplace needs and reflects best business practices.Ms. Marr said another BIEF goal in the coming year is to provide more work-based learning opportunities for students and educators and promote student enrollment in post-secondary education.