Posted by Scott D. Yost
Local leaders are saying that a new career and technical education pilot program proposed this week by legislators could be a huge step forward for Guilford County.
On Tuesday, March 5, state Reps. Jon Hardister, Amos Quick, John Faircloth and Ashton Clemmons filed a bill that would provide funding to Guilford County Schools to implement a new career-oriented and technical training program that could have major implications for the county and the state.
Hardister said this week that this is a huge opportunity for Guilford County.
“This is very important,” he said. “We need to be certain students will be taught skills that will get them a job. It will be a six-year deal and the state will provide up to $3 million in funding.”
Hardister added that this could end up being a model program for other counties across the state.
“If successful, we’ll duplicate it,” he said.
The new legislation would provide funding that allows Guilford County Schools to establish an “Innovative Signature Career Academy Program.” The goal is to use the specialized education program to prepare students for high-wage, high-skill careers.
The legislation would also encourage local businesses to participate by providing a tax incentive for those that partner with the school system on the program.
Hardister said he’s optimistic this initiative will become a reality since there’s also a companion bill in the state senate.
Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Alan Branson said this is exactly the type of education program Guilford County needs right now. He said that, years ago, the belief became prevalent that “everybody has to go to a four-year college.” He said that now, as a result of that misguided thinking, there are a lot of skill-based trade and construction jobs that are very hard to fill.
“Two or three generations missed the boat,” Branson said of the lack of adequate technical education.
Branson, who runs a local trucking company, said his company often has trouble finding mechanics or truck drivers due to the decades of emphasis on the need for a four-year college education.
Guilford County Schools listed this proposed career and technical pilot program on the school system’s 2019 legislative agenda – which is basically a “wish list” that the schools present to the state legislators each year.
The Greensboro Chamber of Commerce, which is now doing all it can to enhance the local workforce, also supports the legislation in a big way. Brent Christensen, the president and CEO of the Greensboro Chamber, said this week that career and technical education is critically important for Guilford County and its students. He added that this program a priority of the Greensboro Chamber this year.
Christensen said his organization applauds Guilford County’s legislative delegation for taking the lead “to ensure our community has the tools it needs to educate our workforce of the future.”