Industry, education leaders meet about career tech courses

Published 11:19 pm Thursday, April 11, 2019

Leaders in education and industry from around the region met at Troy University Thursday to discuss the future of career tech course sin the state.

The Educator Workforce Academy is a leadership orientation to the world of business and industry for regional educators, giving school system leaders the opportunity to develop relationships with industry leaders and expand their knowledge about career opportunities and workforce development challenges in southeast Alabama. The EWA is a four-session program over five months, culminating in an ALSDE state-approved Professional Learning Unit (PLU).

The third session in the series, the attendees had a full day planned out for them hearing from a variety of speakers, attending a luncheon with Troy University Chancellor Dr. jack Hawkins Jr. and touring Walmart Distribution Center in Brundidge and KW Container in Troy.

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Among the educational leaders in attendance were Charles Henderson High School Principal Brock Kelley and Jeff McClure, director of Pike County School’s Center for Advanced Academics and Accelerated Learning.

Kelley said one particular discussion of plans by the governor’s office most intrigued him.

“Basically theyre really working to increase the workforce and they have put together a task force to help all industries, K-12 and college come together to provide credentials for students to go to work right after high school or community college,” Kelley said. “We’re looking to bridge the gap between secondary education, post-secondary and industry.”

Brian Massy of the governor’s office explained further some of the initiatives that are being pushed.

He explained that the state wants to increase literacy and innumeracy being reached by third grade, career exploration by fourth grade and youth apprenticeship programs that get high school students college credit and career certifications before they ever walk across a stage.

Getting books and reading at an earlier age is a big part of that, Massy said.

“Only 35 percent of third graders in the state are at the benchmark for reading,” Massy said. “If a child comes into kindergarten that hasn’t been read to, that makes a huge difference. Getting books to underprivileged kids and getting books into the homes is important. Third grade is where kids go from learning to read to reading to learn.”

Massy said the governor’s office is also looking to become its own entity for approving certifications instead of getting “bogged down in Atlanta” and certain training hour minimums on current programs will become more flexible depending on what individual industries require.