Keep Kids Learning; Closing The Gap Between Schools and a Career

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WILLIAMSTON (WILX)-- We've all been there before, taken a class in high school or college only to find out later in life it did nothing to prepare you for your career. Now businesses and schools are trying to do something about it, and close the skills gap between high school and the jobs that await.

It was a conversation that needed to happen, how to make sure kids are prepared for a career after they leave school.

"At this point it's awareness, then we identify where the gaps and needs are, and then we do something about it," said Williamston Schools Superintendent Narda Murphy.

Superintendent Murphy and Peckham Incorporated Vice President Jo Sinha sat down together to find out what they can do to better connect student to the work force, making sure they have the job skills they need before they graduate.

"What we don't want to see in Lansing is a skills gap where all skills that the incoming workforce have do not meet the needs of the skills needed by businesses and industry," said Sinha.

The conversation was made possible by "Keep Kids Learning," a coalition of education, business and other organizations committed to doubling the number of college graduates in mid-Michigan.

"There are banks meeting with schools, insurance companies meeting with schools, and manufacturers meeting with schools," said Sinha.

Some schools like Williamston High School already have some programs already set in place like the "Work Base Learning Program" to help ease the transfer between high school and the job force. Students actually get credit for having a job and learning valuable skills.

Work Base Learning Coordinator Debbie Lynch says she works with businesses so that students find out early on what their career path should be. They learn skills by working that cannot always be found in the classroom.

"A lot of employees tell me the soft skills are the biggest issues with employees when they hire them. Soft skills are skills such as getting to work on time, being able to communicate, take constructive criticism, and dressing appropriately for work. Those are the skills that you should come to the work place already knowing and these small jobs help them learn that," said Lynch.

Williamston High School considers themselves to be one of the lucky ones because they have the "Work Based Learning Program" and other local schools have had to drop their programs because of budget issues.

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