Carroll Tomorrow was invited by Washington DC-based Jobs for the Future (JFF), a national nonprofit that builds educational and economic opportunity for underserved populations, to participate in a series of meetings discussing innovative apprenticeships and work-based learning initiatives.
Donna Armstrong-Lackey, Senior Vice President of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce and Carroll Tomorrow, and Bess Glanton, industrial engineer at Southwire and graduate of the Southwire Engineering Academy (SWEA), represented Carroll County, one of only three communities invited to participate.
Rutherford County, TN and the state of Indiana also took part in the meetings in Washington, as part of President Trump’s Workforce Development Week which included a roundtable with JFF officials, U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Acting Assistant Secretary Byron Ziedema and John Ladd, U.S. DOL director of newly-created Apprenticeship Programs.
The group was invited to U.S. DOL Secretary Alexander Acosta’s office and shared local initiatives with the Secretary. Armstrong-Lackey provided details of the Carrollton-Carroll County Education Collaborative (CCEC) P-16 process focused on the three cornerstones of ‘enroll, employ and enlist’, the Carroll County Chamber’s 8th Grade Career Expo, county and city schools’ CTAE work-based learning programs in over 200 businesses, and the Manufacturing Day experience for educators in local industry.
“We spoke at length with the Secretary’s Chief of Staff Wayne Palmer about our holistic approach locally, and they were very interested in visiting the community,” Armstrong-Lackey said.
Glanton shared details of the SWEA and Southwire’s 12 for Life program. SWEA is a cooperative internship program for 11th- and 12th-grade Carrollton High School STEM program students. SWEA promotes achievement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics while enabling students to apply these disciplines in a real-world manufacturing setting. 12 for Life, a partnership between Southwire and Carroll County Schools, inspires at-risk students to earn wages by working in a Southwire manufacturing facility while completing high school.
As a result of the conversations with Acosta and his staff, Palmer shared Glanton’s story the next day at Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue’s meeting of the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity.
“I was so proud to be representing Southwire as a testimony to the positive impact the company’s investments in work-based learning innovations have on our community’s students,” Glanton said. “Secretary Acosta was very intrigued and interested when I described to him Southwire’s 12 for Life and SWEA work based learning programs. My hope is that more students from across the country can benefit from similar programs with the help of the U.S. DOL and the example Southwire has created in Carroll County.”
Glanton graduated from Carrollton High School, obtained an industrial engineering degree at Auburn University and returned to her hometown to work at Southwire. “I had several job opportunities but chose Southwire because I already had a relationship with them that started during the Academy,” Glanton said. “I knew that I wanted to work where they were already invested in me – I wasn’t just another employee.”
Secretary Acosta shared that he is most concerned about streamlining service-delivery and eliminating duplicity between several federal programs, and he is working closely with the U.S. Department of Education to coordinate effort. He is planning a nation-wide tour highlighting Apprenticeship/WBL innovations and Armstrong-Lackey invited him to Carroll County to share all of our initiatives up close.
Carroll Tomorrow and the Carroll County Chamber have been working with JFF for more than five years since being nominated by the Georgia Department of Education to participate in the Harvard University Pathways for Prosperity initiative. JFF has provided support for such initiatives as the Chamber’s Workforce Education Blue Ribbon Task Force and the continuing work of the Workforce Education Committee, as well as the two-year-old CCEC.
In 2012, JFF visited and learned about the successful work-based learning programs at Carroll County School’s College and Career Academy and Carrollton High School, as well as 12 for Life. They continue to hold up Carroll County’s holistic approach to workforce education as a community model, and have regularly promoted Southwire’s 12 for Life and Engineering Academy as model programs for work-based learning.
“Many communities and agencies from around the country have been referred by JFF to learn from Southwire about their successful, ten-year-old 12 for Life program creating work-based learning opportunities for over 2,000 high school students,” Armstrong-Lackey said.
JFF recently announced the opening of the Center for Apprenticeship and Work-based Learning (WBL) http://center4apprenticeship.jff.org, providing resources and technical assistance to support talent development through business, education and community partnerships.
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