Getting career ready

Feb. 19, 2013 @ 08:10 PM

On Monday, Gov. Pat McCrory signed his first bill into law, emphasizing the need for career and technical education programs in areas with high employment needs.

Senate Bill 14 will increase the amount of programs available to high school students, similar to the career readiness course currently being taught at Western Vance High School.

Vance County offers seven different CTE courses at all three high schools, providing students with credentials and documented skills to present to employers.

At Western Vance, Career Ready 101 is the only CTE course in the county offered through a cooperative effort from Vance-Granville Community College’s Human Resource Development department.

The course prepares students for the work force, providing them with training to raise current skills to a desired certification level.

Upon completion of the course students receive Career Readiness Certification, a credential that promotes career development and skill attainment for the individual, and confirms their basic workplace skills to employers.

“Today’s plan is seeking job applications,” said Francine Burwell, who teaches the course. “So, before they leave, they have to fill out at least two job applications.”

James Williams, a student in the class, recently accepted an interview for a job position at Food Lion. Through the course he has learned skills to prepare him to get face to face with his potential employer.

“I’m going to dress nice, talk in complete sentences, be on time, five minutes early, or 10, be prepared, wear a pocket shirt and have a pin in it, ready to write down anything,” Williams said. “I just know I’m going to get it.”

Donald Evans, a teacher at Western Vance, says his students are eager to work.

“They express interest in just getting a job,” Evans said. “They just want to work.”

During McCrory’s State of the State address Monday night he recognized that many students like Williams have post-graduation career goals.

“I firmly believe in this,” McCrory said during his speech. “There are two pathways to success.”

In an interview with The Dispatch last week, McCrory emphasized his plan for high school reform legislation that would push for more validity in vocational education programs.

“We need to make sure we have people who can build things, make things, and repair things that are available in the working industry right now,” McCrory said. “I want to sell that skill set in Vance County to potential employers.”

Eric Pierce, principal at Western Vance, is eager to help his students prove they are capable of obtaining jobs.

“The governor’s State of the State address last night, it sounded like he’s heading in the right direction, giving kids the chance to prove that they have learned the skills necessary for businesses in the work place,” Pierce said. “If that’s the case then I think this does allow our students to go out there, speak with potential employers and say, ‘I’m capable of what you’re looking for.’”

Classes offered through VGCC’s Human Resource Development department could soon spread to other area high schools as Senate Bill 14 encourages high school and community colleges to share resources such as instructors, facilities, equipment and business internship opportunities.

Contact the writer at