State Board of Education appoints Economic Development Liaison

The Southerner

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State Superintendent Richard Woods appointed Richard Goble as the new Economic Development Liaison for the State of Georgia on Oct. 20. The appointment corresponds with a national, state- wide and local shift toward Career, Technical and Agricultural Education to meet employer demands for a skilled workforce.

Goble is responsible for providing support for CTAE educators, over- seeing a newly created Business and Industry Advisory Council in the Department of Education and advising curriculum changes to align CTAE classes with business demands.

“My main job is to partner with business and industry and to find out what are their needs for education on the CTAE side,” Goble said.

Goble said he has already begun meeting with Georgia companies to understand their workforce needs. Goble recently met with the Blue Bird Corporation, a bus manufacturer headquartered in Fort Valley, Ga., to establish an internship system for local students.

“The business community has been very positive,” Goble said. “They appreciate our efforts to communicate with them.”

Between 1985 and 1991, Goble served as a Sergeant/Munitions Systems Specialist, responsible for maintaining weapons on aircraft, in the United States Air Force. Goble has also served as the Director of Business and Industry for Chattahoochee Technical College and as the General Sales Manager for Jasper Jeep Chrysler Dodge.

“In my previous roles, I have had lots of contact with businesses around the state in everything from agriculture, logistics, manufacturing, healthcare,” Goble said. “You name it, I have contacts for them.”

Goble spearheaded a curriculum change at Chattahoochee Technical College to meet the specific requirements of a local manufacturer for industrial maintenance technicians. Goble said similar changes within Georgia’s high school and postsecondary education system are necessary to ensure students are learning information that is still relevant to their occupational field of interest.

“We, as the Georgia Department of Education, need to know what’s going on in business and industry,” Goble. “Things are changing so fast with technology that we need to stay abreast of the changes.”

Currently, CTAE programs provide students with specific occupational skills and early post-secondary education opportunities. The GADOE created Goble’s position as part of the Educating Georgia’s Future Workforce initiative which aims to increase the state’s focus on career education and develop partnerships with the businesses community. Goble believes CTAE is essential for job growth in Georgia. According to a report released by Pathways to Prosperity, low youth employment rates are primarily the result of a mismatch between what is taught in school and what skills are required to be successful in a job.

“Companies want a trained workforce,” Goble said. “Georgia has to be competitive so our students will have great careers.”

In 2011, Georgia passed Career Clusters legislation that led to the development of career pathways for high school students. The pathways focus on one of 17 specific career areas. In addition, the state passed the Work-Based Learning Act in 2014 to expand workbased learning opportunities for students and promote career-focused education.

Currently, 61.12 percent of all Georgia high school students are enrolled in a CTAE course. Grady students have the op-portunity to take courses in seven career clusters: communications, business management, health science, hospitality, law, marketing, and science & engineering. Last school year, Grady launched a work-based learning program which provided students with internships.

Dr. James Dunton, who manages Grady’s work-based learning program, receives five calls a week from businesses requesting a Grady student to work in an internship. According to Dunton, this business interest is relatively recent. Dunton said the quantity often means there is an internship in line with most students’ career interests. Grady students are currently participating in internships at 13 different establishments. Dunton said some students are not prepared for the rigors of real-world internships and have second thoughts about their purported career interests.

“Sometimes, they don’t realize what they’re getting into,” Dunton said. “Everyone says they want an internship, but when it comes down to it and they see what’s involved, it’s easier for them to just say ‘I’d rather have a job at Lenox mall.’”

Senior Willy Tandongfor participates in Dunton’s work-based learning program and interns with Linda Cannon Associates, a production agency. Tandongfor completed the engineering pathway at Grady and is more interested in being an engineer than a producer. Nevertheless, he said the internship gave him knowledge and skills that could be useful in his future career.

“Although it may not be on my specific pathway, it could come in handy later in life,” Tandongfor said.

Senior Hank Persons completed the engineering pathway and participated in an internship last year through the Gifted Mentorship Program which is not immediately connected to CTAE. Persons interned in a nanotechnology lab at Georgia Tech. He said the internship educated him on “foreign” concepts that he could not and did not learn in class.

While Goble aims to align education with future careers, students participating in work-based learning and career pathways said they value the education regardless of its potential utility.

“It’s always good to learn more,” Tandongfor said



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