In today’s workplace, companies don’t expect new workers to know the intricacies of their procedures and equipment. They’ll train them in those. But they do need those new hires to have more than a modicum of education in advanced technical practices so the companies don’t start from square one in that training.
The more advanced the workers, the more quickly they can be brought up to speed.
So where does that leave high school students preparing for manufacturing, health care and other technical careers? They can’t get hired after graduation without experience, but they can’t get experience without a position with a local company.
The answer lies in partnerships between schools and business, which would allow students to gain critical on-the-job training earlier.
Partnerships being considered between area high schools, the Central Nine Career Center and local businesses would focus on getting students mentoring or internships to get experience and possibly land a job in the future.
Technical training is getting more attention statewide. Earlier this year state lawmakers created a council tasked with helping schools and businesses work together to provide more technical training to students. And now Greenwood Community High School and Central Nine are working on a partnership aimed at better preparing students for jobs after graduation.
Greenwood teachers want to know what they need to do to better prepare freshmen for Central Nine’s computer-aided design, health care and manufacturing courses, assistant superintendent of learning Rick Ahlgrim said.
And this school year, officials at Central Nine plan to meet with area manufacturers and health care companies to see what mentoring, internships or other opportunities they can offer students at the career center, curriculum director Nicole Otte said.
Students who do well in high school courses as freshmen and sophomores would qualify for more advanced courses at Central Nine. If students complete those courses, they could start receiving apprenticeships, internships, mentoring or other training from local businesses, Otte said.
That kind of experience could lead to a full-time job.
The goal is to show students how taking certain courses at the high school and career center can help them land a job while offering local businesses qualified workers.
“It is really helpful for us to do anything we can to help a student picture himself or herself in a career that fits them,” Ahlgrim said.
Central Nine doesn’t have formal agreements with companies guaranteeing training or internships, but Otte said she hopes to change that. Her goal is to have at least one such agreement in place by the end of the school year. That way, she said, students would get the chance to prove to employers that they’re ready to go to work full time.
“You tell us what you need in a student, so that when they finish they’re ready to come work for you,” Otte said.
Partnerships and internships might not lead directly to jobs for graduates. For one thing, students might find that a particular work environment is not to their taste. Better to find that out now before accepting a job. For another, there might not be an opening at the appropriate time.
But the skills students learn, not just the technical but also life skills, such as workplace etiquette and learning the importance of showing up for work on time, will pay valuable dividends throughout the soon-to-be graduates’ professional lives.
We encourage area high schools and businesses to work with Central Nine so tomorrow’s workers can learn what they need to know to be successful.