County business leaders have learned more about the Career Tech Centers that are part of DeSoto County Schools and how they may tap in to the schools as assets to their particular companies.
There are two campuses for career education, one in Olive Branch for the three high schools in that part of the school district and the other in Horn Lake for the other five high school attendance centers.
An Industry Open House was held at the Career Tech Center-West location in Horn Lake late last month where invited business leaders were shown a video about the career education programs that are offered, followed by testimonials and then tours of different departments to meet with instructors and students about what was being taught.
Getting students ready for careers is equally important as getting students ready for post-secondary education, said DeSoto County Schools Supt. Cory Uselton, a fact borne out by a recent talk he heard from Mississippi Sec. of State Delbert Hosemann during a Southaven Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
“He had talked about how they had sent out thousands of questionnaires out to business owners and they asked about the traits they were looking for in workers,” Uselton said. “There were several things businesspeople listed. Honesty, work ethic, all those types of things, but by far, the number one answer that was listed there was an educated workforce. That really stuck with me and that's where we come in.”
Another part of the basis behind the open house, said CTC-West principal Allyson Killough, was in building relationships with the business community.
“We just want to make sure we are building our partnerships with our business community,” Killough said. “Part of vocational education is that we're preparing students for the real world and for their careers. The students are engaged, they love what they are doing. They want to learn and they're eager.”
CTC-East in Olive Branch offers programs in Health Sciences, Industrial Maintenance, Information Technology, Law and Public Safety and also in Transportation Logistics.
The West campus offers programs in Construction, Carpentry, Digital Media Technology, Welding and in Culinary, as well as Health Sciences, Information Technology, Engineering and Automotive Service Technology. Many of the West programs were moved over from their previous location near Southaven Middle School.
Students who enroll have one block of their day dedicated for them to leave their high school to learn at the Career Tech Center they are assigned to.
“Some of those students are going to go on and earn four-year degrees and advanced degrees,” Uselton said. “Some of them are going to earn associate degrees but some of them are going to go into the workforce immediately right after high school. So, we want to meet all of those students' needs. We hope we're offering to industry leaders an educated workforce to help immediately.”
“If they're thinking they do want to go to college but not sure where, we'll help get them going in their field of study. If they're thinking about careers, we'll help them work on that,” Killough said.
She added both schools offer an Adopt-A-Program method for businesses to more closely connect with the schools and their possible future employees.
“Adopt-A-Program is an opportunity for companies or organizations to be an official sponsor of one of our eight programs here or one of the five programs at East,” Killough said. “That's where we showcase them as an official sponsor, have their name on the wall, put their name on the website and we continue that partnership.”
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.