District's Work Study Program

District's Work-Study Program
Posted on 02/19/2019
Alliance PickensLIBERTY — The Pickens County Career and Technology Center is working to provide students with work experience that goes beyond the average after-school job and is partnering with area industry and local businesses to do so.

The center is working with Alliance Pickens and the district’s middle and high schools to provide “career discovery and also to keep a viable pipeline for an educated workforce,” CTC director Ken Hitchcock said.

"when Alliance Pickens has a potential client that's going to move into the area, they'll take them over here and show them around," Hitchcock said.

Every year, Alliance Pickens host a fundraiser at the center, with the bulk of the proceeds going toward the center's manufacturing programs, he said. 

The center provides "real work-based experience for students here in the county," Hitchcook said.

Work-based learning coordinator Cheryl Garrison coordinates co-ops and internships for students. When officials with German company era-contact announced they would be building a facility at the Pickens County Commerce Park, they said the Alliance Pickens Scholar Technician program was similar to Germany's apprenticeship program.

Company officials continue to partner with the district and give students opportunities. 

"We're working on trying to do things that haven't typically been done," Garrison said. "We definitely have relationships with industry... but we're also working to kind of create those relationships beyond just our manufacturers."

Changes at the state level "have opened up new avenues for us" related to work-based learning, she said. 

"Previously, it had to be tied to a certain kind of course," she said. "Now it's opened up and we are able to help students to have more opportunities."

Local businesses such as Chick-fil-a and King Asphalt give students "experiences that are sort of beyond what a regular part-time job would be," she said.

"I'm working in a grocery store, but I didn't realize that all this other stuff took place to make it run,'" Garrison said. "We're really working with the local businesses to kind of help them understand what we want to do and also just give those experiences to students."

The center is, "probably another year away" from placing culinary arts students in co-ops, Hitchcock said.

The culinary arts program "has been wildly popular," he said.

"We're going to have a waiting list next year for the program," Hitchcock said. "These are your future chefs and restaurant managers."

The school district itself has created a work-study system where "students work in the schools," Garrison said.

"So it may be that a high school student is working in one of the elementary schools in the after-school program or a student may be working as a receptionist a few hours a week," Garrison said. "We kind of did a partnership with ourselves. That has been wildly successful." 

The work-study positions are paid positions, she said.

"So the students are making money and they're getting that real-world experience," Garrison said.

There are about five different types of work-study positions across the district that students can choose, including positions at the career and technology center, she said. 

"We have about 42 students in those positions across the district," Garrison said. "That has increased the students' ownership in terms of what they're doing, understanding the school and how it runs. It's also just been a gift in terms of having those extra hands. The students have done exceptionally well."

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