Panel: prepare students for industryPublished 10:20pm Tuesday, December 11, 2012
When the Beaufort County Economic Development Council first formed the Workforce Partnership Committee, the group asked local businesses what kind of skills their new hires would need.
Buster Humphries, a former National Spinning Co. president served as the first chairman of the partnership. He said businesses emphasized training students in trades.
“To me, I think the biggest thing we can do for Beaufort County is prepare these students for industry,” Humphries said. “In North Carolina, 8 percent of the jobs are not filled because we don’t have enough technically qualified people to fill them.”
National Spinning Co. president and CEO Jim Chesnutt was guest speaker at a recent Workforce Partnership meeting.
He spoke to the group about his work force. Most of his employees have been there for years, but Chesnutt had some comments about new-hires.
“It’s difficult because some of the people that come to work don’t understand work ethics,” he said.
The partnership, which is now a part of the Committee of 100, tackles job skills and work ethics. Its mission is to improve the job skills and work ethics of Beaufort County workers, thereby improving the quality of life for Beaufort County residents.
With a list of members that includes county commissioners Al Klemm and Jerry Langley, Beaufort County Schools Superintendent Don Phipps, Beaufort County Community College President Barbara Tansey and Beaufort County Economic Development Commission Director Bob Heuts, the partnership has the support to live up to its mission statement.
Humphries said the group works closely with Beaufort County students.
“Three years ago, we decided that we needed to get middle-school and high-school kids involved in a career path. So, we got 47 citizens to talk to these kids about social skills and then we got into health care, manufacturing, agriculture and administration,” Humphries said.
The partnership heard from Beaufort County Schools Superintendent Don Phipps this month.
The presentation included initiatives like job shadowing for teachers and students and team teaching with subject matter experts. The guest speakers would give students practical examples of how the day’s lesson is used on the job then team up with the teacher to teach the subject.
The school system is working on a job-shadowing program for teachers. They would shadow someone in a subject they teach then build a lesson plan around the experience.
Phipps gave an overview of the county’s successes. The dropout rate is under 100 students per year for the first time since the district started keeping track, and the school system has been awarded more than $13 million in grants to keep students from dropping out since 2003.
“We really can’t talk about the successes we’ve had without talking about community involvement, especially Beaufort County Community College,” Phipps said.
Phipps meets regularly with Tansey to discuss ways of getting Beaufort County Schools’ students involved with the community college.
“I don’t think the education of our students can be relegated exclusively to ‘schools,’” Phipps said. “Our success will depend on our willingness and ability to partner with other agencies and organizations to find solutions to problems and to recognize and appreciate the potential benefits that exist when we combine our resources and efforts for the common good.”