Student Ashley Greene, a member of the student associate board of directors at the Newton College & Career Academy, is one of about 250 students currently enrolled at the new facility. The school's Chief Executive Officer James Woodard said he hopes that students at the academy gain simple business skills like proper dress and communication, in addition to learning advanced work place skills in programs like engineering, marketing, agriculture and cosmetology. - Staff Photo: Erin Evans
COVINGTON -- Leaders in education and business came together Tuesday to discuss how teachers can better prepare the current generation to enter the global workforce.
During a special panel discussion at the Newton County Chamber of Commerce's annual Workforce Development Summit on Tuesday, Mark Butler, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Labor, and Candy Morris, Human Resources director at Nisshinbo Automotive, said they struggle dealing with incoming laborers who don't have common sense knowledge like how to dress and act in a work place in addition to finding highly skilled workers.
James Woodard, chief executive officer of the Newton College and Career Academy, and Larry Teems, acting president of Georgia Piedmont Technical College, said they are working with current students to help them develop simple professional skills as well as in-depth labor skills to make them better candidates entering a 21st century global workforce.
Morris, whose company recently added about 50 jobs due to an expansion last year, said many applicants she meets at job fairs and during interviews don't know how to dress properly, are not engaged and have poorly written resumes and applications. She said one candidate even answered his cell phone during an interview, which ended at that point.
"It's sad because it didn't use to be that way," she said, adding that she also is not seeing as many highly skilled laborers as she once did.
Butler said the DOL is upgrading technology and adding programs, some in conjunction with the Newton County Chamber, to help students and unemployed individuals gain better knowledge about soft skills like communication and attitude.
"This is a needed thing," Butler said. "If we don't get on top of this quickly, we're going to have a lost generation."
Teems said workforce development is his college's No. 1 goal, especially with most jobs requiring a high school diploma or a college education.
Woodard said in addition to getting students the career and college skills they need in certain areas at the newly opened academy, he is working with all students to help them develop better real world skills like making eye contact and having a firm handshake and also having teachers serve as role models for the way students dress and act.
"It's created a culture of professionalism with the students," he said.