Local programs preparing students for workforce of future

Monday, October 15, 2018

A lot of work is being done these days to prepare students for just that: work. Two recent Southeast Missourian stories highlighted the efforts.

The first example was the Youth Entrepreneurs program, a national organization being instituted at Central High School. The program is designed to teach students what they’d need to know about starting their own businesses. It’s new on Central’s campus this year, pushed by Tony Robinson, the deputy superintendent of secondary education. It is taught by Pam Pensel.

It isn’t just about learning budget spreadsheets, profit-and-loss statements and how to open a business account at a bank, Pensel told reporter Marybeth Niederkorn. It’s about developing the confidence to build and present their ideas.

“The kids buy in,” Pensel said. “It’s great, how they’ve grown. Some were very meek at first, but they’ve been willing to think outside the box. It’s been a nice surprise.”

On another end of the workforce spectrum, more than 300 area students from junior highs and high schools attended Manufacturing Day on Oct. 3 at the Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center.

Several local manufacturers were on hand to share with students that manufacturing jobs today aren’t the grimy jobs of decades past; they take skill, knowledge of technology and smarts. Working with your hands is more than rote tasks.

“These jobs don’t always require a college degree, but workers do have to have mechanical and technical aptitude to do those jobs,” said Kathleen Clayton, workforce development coordinator at the CTC. “We’re seeing manufacturers hurting for good employees, people who are trainable with an aptitude, who will show up to work every day, on time and ready to put in a full day.”

Education is always vital to a robust society, as is workforce readiness, and they are tied together. Workforce development has for several years been an important issue locally and is becoming a bigger conversation at the state and national levels.

We appreciate our local leaders and educators for all they do to help prepare our children to be productive, skilled and dynamic employees or employers of the future.

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