Educators, EDC announce workforce plan

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Piedmont Community College, Person County Schools and Person County Economic Development Commission on Tuesday announced a partnership they hope will create more skilled workers locally.

The announcement came at the Roxboro area Chamber of Commerce Industrial Relations Committee Luncheon hosted by PCC.

Dr. Barbara Buchanan, Chief Academic Officer at PCC, said the 6-14 Workforce Pipeline Plan is a response to the problem that there was no deliberate, coordinated effort to create a pipeline of workers in areas of need that are considered economic development priorities.

Buchanan said Person County awarded $200,000 for the plan’s creation. A press release states that these funds will be used for staffing, training, equipment and other necessary components to implement and sustain the overall plan.

The funds initially came through a 2010 grant awarded to Person County by the Golden LEAF foundation to support the expansion of Eaton Corporation in Person County. The original grant funds purchased equipment that was leased to Eaton and the proceeds from that lease have funded the new plan.

Buchanan said the plan is to create a seamless pipeline in strategic areas to reflect Person County economic development areas of focus including advanced manufacturing, technology, entrepreneurship, agriculture and the trades.

To accomplish the workforce development, the plan’s tactics are to focus on work-based learning experiences for students and teachers, develop a targeted marketing campaign aimed at students and parents, integrate high-demand technologies into existing degree programs, conduct professional development in career paths for areas of focus and create regional partnerships around industry segments, Buchanan said.

“We are constantly trying to make sure that what we do is relevant – what we teach is relevant,” Buchanan said. “When we get students prepared to enter the workforce that they are what employers need when they get there.”

The plan also requires 6th graders to take a career exploration course to help them identify potential careers early.

Dr. Rodney Peterson, Person County School Superintendent, said career exploration classes have started this fall.

Judy Bradsher, Director of Career and Technical Education for Person County Schools, outlined the plans effects on middle and high schoolers.

The plan offers CTE pathways in Architecture and Construction, Business Management and Administration, Education and Training, Health Science, Hospitality and Tourism, Human Services, Information Technology, Law, Public Safety, Corrections and Security, Manufacturing, Marketing, Transportation, Distribution and Logistics and Career and College Promise Transfer.

Interested students become CTE concentrators when they earn four or more technical credits in a Career Cluster, at least one of which is an advanced completer course.

To combat lower staffing levels on a school-by-school basis, Bradsher said CTE teachers will swap between schools. This allows middle school students at Northern and Southern Middle School to experience all four CTE programs available in middle school.

In high school, students in CTE pathways can take classes at PCC in their junior and senior years.

“One thing that I’m excited about is that our students don’t have to do this outside the school day,” Bradsher said. “We have an agreement with Piedmont Community College so these courses are offered to our students within the school day. They may have first and second period at the high school and third, fourth and fifth here at the college. Transportation is provided, equipment is provided, their textboorks are provided and their tuition is provided so that student is earning the certificate at no cost to their family.”

Bradsher said students who complete CTE Pathways in high school will graduate and be only a few classes away from an associates degree.

She said there are 187 high school students are taking classes at PCC this fall and of those, 80 are in CTE programs.

County Commissioner and EDC Chair Gordon Powell closed the presentation with a comment on the plan’s relevance.

“Dr. Buchanan mentioned the word ‘relevance’ and that’s really what it’s all about,” Powell said. “I remember back before some of you were born I wrote about relevance in an application for Person County Teacher of the Year. It’s all about relevance. Children are smarter than sometimes we give them credit for at 6th grade. They see and know relevance. They know what piques their interest so they can go in those directions. This is a wonderful opportunity to present to them and show them a pathway to becoming employable with the skills they need after high school and continuing on with the 6-14 concept.”

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