Troy hosts statewide education,
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 13, 2000
business partnership seminar
By BRIAN BLACKLEY
June 12, 2000 10 PM
Organizers hope an event held Monday in Troy will become a catalyst for positive change in the state of Alabama.
In order to prepare for the changing working environment that has developed in the 21st Century, Troy State University hosted an all-day workshop Monday that brought educational and business leaders from all over the state to stress the importance of a partnership between education and the workforce.
"The goal is to demonstrate better ways for businesses and education to partner together in order to produce a better workforce for the state of Alabama," said Marsha Gaylard, president of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce. "Here in Pike County, we have a very successful program in place and we wanted to get people together and share ideas about the program with others in the state. Our hope is that through the open sharing of information on all levels, we can build strong school-to-career programs throughout the state."
More than 250 people were in attendance at the conference, including economic developers, chamber of commerce presidents, state school superintendents, university presidents, state department personnel, school to career directors, business partners, teachers and career technical directors.
The event was the brainchild of Gaylard and Sherry Key, director of the Troy-Pike Regional Center for Technology.
Gaylard said the two had the idea to host separate events after making a tour of school-to-career programs in Florida.
"I wanted to get together with economic developers and she wanted to get together with educators," Gaylard said. "Then the idea took on a life of its own."
Through support of TSU Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr., president of the Alabama Association of University Presidents, and Pike County Superintendent of Education John Key who serves as president of the Alabama Association of School Superintendents, statewide support was immediately drummed up for the event.
"They were both in positions to generate a lot of interest in this event," Gaylard said.
By incorporating secondary education and higher education into the program, Gaylard believes that colleges and high schools will have the opportunity to use their facilities and programs to build a better employee for business and industry.
"Higher education is a big part of this," Gaylard said. "We want to prepare and encourage students to continue their education, but we also want to be able to develop programs that teach job skills to those who will not pursue their education beyond high school."
Currently the state funds school-to career-programs through grants as part of the Alabama Education Initiative, but those funds will dry up in 2002. When that happens, Gaylard said, it will be important for school systems in the state to be able to continue those programs by being self-sufficient with funding for them.
"We want these programs to continue through funding from our business partners or through funds from state agencies and organizations," she said.
Gaylard said much of the information shared at the seminar will be used by Alabama Department of Economic and Community Development officials to compile a set of guidelines for school systems to follow to keep the programs vital and active.
"This is a chance for ADECA to pull all the best practices from all the active programs in the state and give our communities a leg up on what works well," Gaylard said.
But the emphasis is on producing good workers.
"If education has a product, it is the potential employee," Gaylard said. "We want this ‘product’ to be the best it can be. We don’t want this to be another school program. It’s all about developing a workforce that can meet the needs of our state’s businesses."