More than 60 colleges and universities sent representatives to Bruncwick High School on Wednesday to share what their schools can offer prospective students from BHS, Glynn Academy, Frederica Academy and McIntosh County Academy.
High school counselors and homeroom teachers had previously discussed the Probe College Fair with their students the kinds of questions they could ask the college staffers about the programs, scholarships and other opportunities available to them.
Coincidentally, members of the Brunswick Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce heard a presentation about the importance of soft skills needed in the business world. It appears those skills are an important component of education that may get overlooked.
Family Connection Glynn conducted a survey of business firms and perhaps surprisingly, companies described soft skills as their greatest concern. Such skills include the ability to work well with others, present oneself appropriately and to demonstrate a good work ethic.
Colleges such as those attending the fair may already include soft skill programs within certain courses and seminars or are planning to do so. But such training should be offered at the high school level as well.
Fortunately, the Golden Isles Career Academy currently offers such a curriculum. Faith Copeland-Pittman, business services recruiter with the Georgia Department of Labor, hopes the introduction of Georgia Best — a curriculum developed by the department of labor — might be able to help as well.
Before developing the program at the career academy, instructor Christine Williamson surveyed area business and industry leaders. She was startled to discover their primary concern is that many employees do not show up for work, do not dress appropriately and have trouble setting priorities. While the career academy course currently isn’t mandatory, Williamson wants students to recognize its value for now and in the future.
As she told The News, “We have expectations that are rules in all classes. But I try to teach them to think of these as policies and procedures you’d find in the workplace. And throughout the school we have a work-ethic grade, and if you are late for instance, that hurts your grade.”
To reinforce that message, Williamson has taken students to real-world settings and has invited business people to talk with the students at school. The academy enrolls only about 500 students, however, so it makes sense for the school district to bring in the Georgia Best curriculum as soon as possible for Brunswick High and Glynn Academy.
Many of the students attending career fairs will attend college, where they will get opportunities to work on or off-campus or participate in internships. Other students will go directly into the workforce. Obviously, both groups should come in ready with the soft skills they will need.
Copeland-Pittman described it succinctly at the chamber meeting this week.
“As you know, the key to Georgia’s future is a prepared workforce. I summarized ‘prepared’ as an individual who does the right thing.”