We, as a county, are at a turning point in our history. We have always been a force to be reckoned with in the industrialized south, being centralized from Atlanta air hubs and coastal ports in Charleston and Savannah. Our transportation infrastructure, rail and Interstate, provide the means to get goods and raw materials in and out of the area. We have low cost real estate and sprawling areas of land easily converted to factory space.
So why isn't Augusta, GA considered an industry powerhouse?
In my belief, we have less to offer due to not having a well trained workforce able to meet the hands on requirements that industry wants. We have great secondary education colleges to provide this type of training. Fine examples are Augusta Tech and Aiken Tech. We are simply missing a link between the last years of High School, and the first years of Technical training.
We, as a whole, have to bring ourselves to the conclusion that not every person in school will find themselves in a four year institution. This is not a bad thing, as I have proven in my long career as a European auto technician. Without my skills I learned in High School, Tech School, and on the job training, I'm not sure where I would be right now. There are people out there like me without guidance, and they are slipping trough the cracks.
My plans are to find students that are not planning to attend a four year program and provide them links to technical, clerical, or vocational training. This could be started in 10th grade, negating the dropout rate and giving kids something to shoot for.
We must include outside agencies, such as factories, unions, job placement companies, and non-profits in our plans. We have after school programs now for children such as Jessee Norman School of Arts to teach music, art, and dance. I would love to see an after school program so kids could learn welding, electronics, auto repair, and HVAC repair provided by a nonprofit.
Ideas like this will send a clear message to industries that we are open for business and lower our dropout rate. We need productive citizens, and this is yet another tool in increasing that outcome.