A School to Work Partnership grant will help area counties identify gaps in developing an effective work force.
Columbia County business and industry leaders met with program officials Wednesday for a fact-finding mission to see how the educational system could better prepare students to enter the working world. Meetings have been held in Lincoln and McDuffie counties; more are scheduled for Burke and Richmond counties within two weeks.
The program was started with a $60,000 School to Work federal grant administered by the Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education. The local office is based at Augusta Technical Institute. Charlene Sizemore, an area business and industry leader, is chairwoman of the partnership, and Jo Anne Robinson is coordinator. In June, they will apply for a grant to implement projects developed from these meetings.
"One thing we are consistently hearing these businesses saying is, `If educators knew what I was doing, they would know how to teach children and the end product would be better,"' Ms. Sizemore said.
One solution, she said, might be allowing students and educators greater access to local industries to see what types of skills are required on the job each day. Industry leaders could talk with students about what they expect of their workers.
"Maybe then our children could come out of high school knowing about real business; this is what it takes to get a job in this county," Ms. Sizemore said. "We think the common thread is that children don't know what goes on in your plant and how to get a job there."
Students need to understand the relevance of what they are learning, said Jim Points, president of Signs of Augusta.
"How do students implement math and reading skills they learn in the workplace?" Mr. Points asked. "To them, there is no connection. I don't know if relevance can be included in the curriculum."
Reach Melissa Hall at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 113.