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Work force initiative kicks off Thursday

POSTED: February 26, 2014 12:15 a.m.

CUMMING -- The Forsyth County education and business communities are working to change the job market outlook for high school and college graduates through a new initiative.

Workforce Forsyth is a brainchild of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce and the local school system, similar to the 2400 Challenge and PROPEL initiatives.

Instead of academics, however, it focuses on the job market, specifically the manufacturing and technology sectors.

“Even though there are a lot of people looking for jobs, at the current time there’s a void in technically trained workers who are seeking positions throughout the country,” said Randall Toussaint, chamber vice president of economic development.

The local initiative will kick off from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday at the Forsyth Conference Center.

Valery Lang Hall, school system governance and career development coordinator, said the goal is to get the chamber, school system, University of North Georgia, Lanier Technical College and members of the county’s business community into one room to determine “what does a career pipeline look like for a student in Forsyth.”

“We’re going to take a lot of concepts and business and industry connections and looking at all of our different pathways that we teach and make connections that would lead to long-term post-secondary options, work-based learning opportunities or externships,” Hall said.

The initiative was based on the success of a partnership between Siemens and South Forsyth High School, creating a “European model of apprenticeship,” Toussaint said.

“As part of their regular curriculum, students are able to walk in their classrooms and learn the same things as people working in the factory were learning,” Toussaint said.

Toussaint and Hall want to expand this small group from South Forsyth to give similar opportunities to students in all high schools. Those students can then graduate with a high-paying job and work while attending a technical college, or they can attend a four-year university and return to Forsyth.

It will also help lure more companies to the county if they know students are being trained at the high school level to handle technology jobs.

“We’ll keep our local talent here,” Toussaint said. “Being able to provide a sound workforce really helps us to ensure that the market continues to grow.”

 

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