VMHS kicks off Ready to Work class

By KATHY COPELAND

Vincent/Harpersville

Partnering offers a new class for students at Shelby County High School, Vincent Middle High School and Montevallo High School, beneficiaries of a pilot program being facilitated by the Onin Group.

The Onin Group, whose purpose is to create opportunity and empower people, is facilitating the “Ready to Work” program to provide a career pathway for young men and women entering the workforce.

“We want graduates to walk off the stage with an actionable plan for their future,” said Tiffany Bishop of Onin Group.

Vincent’s Employer Kick-off Day was held Aug. 12, as the program operates during the school year, combining five weeks of soft skill career readiness training with 12-13 weeks of employer-driven curriculum that is tailored by employers to meet real hiring needs. They will review how organizations work and get exposure to skills such as safety practices.

Dawn Howard, VMHS instructor, said, “This is very exciting for our students. They will have job shadowing opportunities and learn real-life skills such as budgeting, interviewing, writing resumes and more.”

Twenty-seven seniors signed up for this class. Early exposure is beneficial to both the students and employers. Melody Whitten of 58 INC., Shelby County’s economic development agency, explained that there are occasions where a student expresses interest in a specific industry but when they tour a facility and see a job in action, they change their minds.

“Exactly the reason this class is so exciting,” said Dr. Michele Edwards, principal at Vincent Middle High School. “This is another outstanding opportunity for our students to get exposure, to tap into their interests and to refine those skills we work hard to develop before they leave us.”

Shelby County businesses can highlight their employment needs, which has obvious benefits for their involvement. Partnering with 58 INC., The Shelby County Chamber and Alabama Career Services, the school system provides exposure to the following specific industry tracks: automotive, construction, hospitality, healthcare, manufacturing, personal finance, and distribution/logistics.

Tawanna Robinson of Alabama Career System explained to the students that her organization helps connect job seekers to employers. She spoke about the importance of soft skills and encouraged students to take advantage of the opportunity being afforded to them by paying attention, taking notes and practicing what they learn.

Robinson told students, “Employers often tell me, ‘I can teach a skill to an employee, I want someone with good work ethic that can show up on time,’ so take to heart what you learn.”

Ready to Work Graduates receive a National Career Readiness Certificate, an Alabama Certified Work Certificate issued by AIDT, an independent agency that operates under the supervision and oversight of the secretary of Commerce and one free college level class.

Businesses participating in the Kick-off were: America’s First Federal Credit Union (Jacoby Kindred), Cahaba Maintenance & Construction (Kari Myers), Thompson Tractor (Chris Ellsworth) and McLeod Software (Casey Morris).

Vincent’s Ready to Work Class toured Thompson Tractor on Aug. 21.  “Our students were engaged and inquisitive,” said Howard.