New courses target workforce skills in Vance schools

Jan. 16, 2013 @ 05:47 PM

Career and Technical Education in Vance County Schools is changing with the times, now offering seven courses for credentials in a wide variety of workforce related skills.

“Industry has said we are not graduating students with skills,” said Willa Clark, director of CTE. “We have jobs, but students don’t have some of the technical skills that are needed when employers are wanting to hire folks.”

All three high schools in Vance County are currently working to provide students with documented skills, offered through credential courses.

“With credentials, kids can graduate from high-school with a certificate that says I can do certain things,” Clark said. “They take a national test that indicates they are proficient.”

Julie Sokol, culinary arts instructor at Northern Vance, recently had 30 students receive ServSafe credentials offered through CTE. She presented those results to the Vance County Board of Education during Monday night’s regularly scheduled meeting.

“Every time you go out to eat, you see a number somewhere on the wall in the restaurant,” Sokol said. “That is a ServSafe number.”

“Guess what my students did,” Clark asked? “They took the test that applies that.

“All 30 of them took it, all 30 of them passed. I couldn’t be prouder.”

In North Carolina, all restaurants require establishments to have a manager on duty that is ServSafe certified.

“It helps them in the market place for employment,” Clark said. “When a student takes their credentials to an employer, they are a little bit ahead of a candidate that doesn’t have a credential.”

As Career and Technical Education continues to gain popularity in the school system, courses may soon be offered to middle school students as well.

“We are working toward seeing what we can do with our middle school kids, so they are more career conscious,” Clark said. “We need to have middle school students fully aware of the kinds of jobs that are out here.

“Sometimes you have to start in your own county.”

Bringing awareness about the potential for employment in Vance County will be done through a program called Students At Work, slated to begin in late February.

“We are inviting our local community to get involved, basically telling students about their workplace,” Clark said. “The whole idea is to get students to say I know somebody who works at this particular place.”

Courses currently offered through CTE apply hands-on curriculum, allowing students to gain first-hand experience in their given career field.

“I appreciate all the things that the core classes offer, but what I love about teaching CTE is you do a real product for a real customer,” Sokol said. “Getting young people, you would not believe or imagine how well they do when they know something real or tangible is going to happen.

“Every week we put on a restaurant, every week we serve teachers, and every week they come back.

“Something is working.”

Contact the writer at amauser@hendersondispatch.com