Where is a good job?
It’s probably one of the biggest questions for high school students nearing graduation, but they might be looking in the wrong place. Northwest Georgia College and Career Academy officials say the “landscape for good jobs has changed.”
The academy’s Board of Directors met on Oct. 11 to discuss how to help students find jobs in a changing landscape, and moved forward with plans to create several science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) labs.
“We got our second letter of approval from (the state Department of Education),” said Tim Fleming, academy principal and chief executive officer. “There is a three-step approval process that should be done by (Friday, Oct. 19) but we might not hear about it right away. From there we have a 30-day bid process (to construction managers). As soon as we’re done with that we’re ready to start. We’re looking at some time between Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
The labs will allow students in Whitfield County Schools to enroll in career-oriented classes even when they’re not on the academy campus, said Fleming, offering technology that will help them begin an early career path.
The labs will be funded by a $2.6 million state grant and will be built at Southeast Whitfield High School, Northwest Whitfield High School, Eastbrook Middle School, Valley Point Middle School, Westside Middle School, North Whitfield Middle School and New Hope Middle School.
Tim Campbell, Career Academy board chairman, said the academy should also reinvest in a graphic design program.
“We had the program before and we had a fair amount of interest,” said Campbell. “But we were teaching it strictly from the computer side and not the business side. Eventually the program went away two years ago.”
To bring the program back, the academy would want a “return on investment,” he said.
“We need evidence of a job market,” said Fleming. “I know word of mouth is out there, but we need studies, too. We’ll want to talk to experts to see when the right time is for a potential program.”
Campbell said he has seen the need firsthand.
“(The older generation) has difficulty with the pre-press (digital) side of things,” he said. “This is where young kids excel. Is there a huge employment opportunity? Well, I think there’s definitely some out there. We just need to teach it with a business model in mind.”
Superintendent Danny Hayes asked if there is a “local pathway” for someone who wants to take a graphic design focus to higher education. Georgia Northwestern Technical College, which will hold classes on the academy campus next year, does not currently offer graphic design courses, but Dalton State College has an associate’s degree in digital design.
Fleming said he is still concerned about restarting a “vulnerable” program.
“My worry is that with a program this small it would be a teacher away from getting cut again,” said Fleming. “You would need to get a dedicated person in there for it to take off.”
The academy will also need an “employment forecast,” said Tom Bojo, dean of academic affairs and manager for the Georgia Northwestern Whitfield-Murray campus.
“Ask the employment in the area as a start,” said Bojo. “We’ll need to see what is currently advertised for jobs, companies’ prospects (and) data from the Georgia Department of Labor. There’s a lot of information out there we can use.”
“I think it is time to look forward,” said board member Jodi Johnson. “We need to make sure any program we look into is a good investment. We owe it to the taxpayer.”
Campbell said he will try to get representatives of local businesses in one room to discuss the potential need.
Career academy moves ahead with labs, talks graphic design
Where is a good job?
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