About 100 people gathered in the Oak Hall of the Ogeechee Technical College over breakfast Wednesday to show their support beyond the school gates for a new county workforce development plan by Bulloch.
The Bulloch County School District Preschool to Grade 12 renamed its former Vocational, Technical and Agricultural Education Steering Committee, or CTAE, simply the Workforce Steering Committee. Three sub-committees – a collaborative team, an educational team and a community team – were formed.
Together with members of business and industry, higher education, local governments, economic development organizations and the military, these are expected to promote the plan and expand efforts to show college students local career opportunities and to provide high school students with employability training, on-the-job apprenticeship placements and dual college enrollment opportunities.
âOne of the main things we want to take home today is that this plan cannot be achieved with schools in Bulloch County alone,â said Julie Chance, executive director of curriculum improvement at the school system. “We need to have the support of this community, of you in this room and others around Bulloch County and the region to make this happen.”
She and Rachel Barnwell, director of economic development programs for the Development Authority of Bulloch County, and Kathleen Kosmoski, director of business and industrial training at Ogeechee Tech, provided an overview of the plan and its goals. They had also led the development of the plan within the previous CTAE steering committee.
The 3 pillars
The plan adopted as a “three-pillar foundation” a stated goal of the Georgia Ministry of Education for all students to be ready to enroll in college or university, enlist in the military or join the military. find successful employment when they graduate from high school. Georgia Southern University President Kyle Marrero also used this slogan “enrolled, enlisted or employed” to promote collaboration between kindergarten and college education in the university’s larger service region.
âWhat we especially want for our students is that when they graduate, they don’t get lumped into one piece,â Chance said. âWe want them to have a choice.
So, if the student’s chosen path leads directly to a job after high school, it should be “a job with great pay and benefits,” she said.
The Workforce Steering Committee aims to ensure that schools and post-secondary institutions form a workforce that meets the needs of local and regional industries and businesses, which in turn will provide a ” sustainable employment âto the citizens of Bulloch County, Barnwell said.
The welding technology and manufacturing engineering assistant certificate programs at the Ogeechee Technical College, or META, were mentioned as examples of direct pathways to relatively well-paying jobs for some high school students.
The college also offers diploma and associate degree programs in manufacturing engineering, but META 1 and META 2 are short-term certificate programs that specific industry partners, such as Great Dane Trailers and Koyo Bearings, guarantee to provide. a job interview at the end and for OTC publishes the starting salary on its website. These programs are open to grade 11 and 12 students who are at least 16 years old.
“These are the certificates that we designed specifically as a pathway for our high school partners …” said Ryan Foley, CTO vice president for academic and student affairs. “It’s kind of basic industrial maintenance, but they’ll start with a higher salary than someone on the street. Then they have a pathway to come to the CTA and complete the diploma or degree. partner. “
The college is also working on a deal with Georgia Southern for students to continue their education in manufacturing engineering.
Statesboro High School, Southeast Bulloch High School, and Portal Middle High School all offer work-based learning programs in which grade 11 and 12 students work part-time with off-campus employers. Students are graded on meeting their professional responsibilities and learning on the job.
But some CTAE course paths offered by schools do not have work sites available.
âCurrently, there are 137 workplace learning sites, but there isn’t a site for every path.â¦,â Kosmoski said. “Statesboro High School recently added a sports medicine course, but there is no workplace learning site aligned with that course, and the same can be said of several others, such as accounting.”
Of the roughly 1,500 students enrolled in Grades 11 and 12 in Bulloch County schools, only 213 are now participating in workplace learning, she reported.
The steering committee is therefore looking for other workplace learning sites and encourages increased student participation. Support is also sought to increase the educational experiences available through ‘technical student career organizations’, such as Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, or FCCLA, Future Business Leaders of America, or FBLA, SkillsUSA and the National FFA Organization.
Student members of some of these clubs opened the doors to the Jack Hill Building and greeted participants on their way to breakfast in the Oak Room.
Past and future
Bulloch County Development Authority CEO Benjy Thompson and Bulloch County Schools Superintendent Charles Wilson traced the development of the new workforce development plan to conversations at ‘they had over a decade ago, as well as a 2014 report on Bulloch County by the Pathways to Prosperity Network, based at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
In 2015, Barnwell hosted DABC’s first Manufacturing Day event, working with Ogeechee Tech, the school system and local industries. Every year on Manufacturing Day, eighth grade students visit industries and the college to learn about potential future careers. This led to the creation of a whole series of different “discovery events” throughout the year, but also to the realization that several organizations were doing separate work on workforce development. that could be better coordinated, Thompson said.
Wilson concluded the meeting by asking attendees to complete a survey, which asked them how they or their organizations might contribute to the effort.
âI think it gives us the opportunity to show our common purpose, to help our children find their way to be enrolled, enlisted or employed,â Wilson said.
The plan, he said, also requires accountability. It calls for regular reviews of its own effectiveness and an annual retreat to review progress.