• Timothy Lewis

NEW PATHWAYS TO LEARNING (PART 2)

Updated: Oct 11

I want our citizens to remain here, in Dorchester County, to work and raise their families.

In my last newsletter I outlined the challenges we face in Dorchester County to prepare a modern and flexible workforce to meet the challenges of the next half century.

We already have a good foundation in workforce training facilities in our area, and model programs exist that we can adapt to our needs. When I am elected to the County Council, I will work to expand successful existing programs and bring new ones to Dorchester. Together we can create the workforce of the future.

One excellent program exists at the South Carolina Aeronautical Training Center at Trident Technical College in North Charleston. In this impressive three-story facility, 120 faculty and staff members provide training in manufacturing, aeronautical studies, and engineering to 5,370 students each year.

Students can earn a degree or a certification. One important component is apprenticeships with major companies in the area. These "work to learn" apprenticeships often lead to employment at the sponsoring companies.

The aeronautical industry, with Boeing at its center, is just one area of our strength. We can encourage similar training centers for careers in logistics and distribution; information technology; health care; the automotive industry; public safety; agriculture, conservation, and forestry; and the culinary and hospitality industries. All these fields need skilled workers in the Dorchester area.

We can build on the successes of the Dorchester County Career and Technology Center, with its campuses in Dorchester and Summerville. This training center, which has existed for 50 years, provides 19 programs in fields ranging from architectural design and auto technology to law enforcement and logistics. I personally credit the Career Center for my career path. In 1975, I received a certificate in printing and communication, which led to a bachelor’s in journalism and a love for culture and language.

It is important to remember that students need not wait to graduate from high school to pursue industry-focused programs. The Federal government provides funding to support Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs in the schools, beginning as early as the fifth grade. CTE provides students with opportunities to explore a career while learning a set of technical and employment skills. CTE programs lead to apprenticeships, associate degree programs, specialized technical training, and full-time employment.

As your representative on the County Council, I will assess these many programs and direct County funding to those with the most potential. All of us--schools, businesses and government-- must pull together if we are to reach our potential.

Parents also have a crucial role to play. They must take an active part in the qualitative, social and career education of their children. They should make them aware of the career options open to them and communicate regularly with school administrators about their children's career needs. Creating the workforce of the future doesn't start at age 18 with a high school degree. It starts in middle school, or earlier, when children are made aware of the opportunities available to them.

Education is my passion. I promise to bring that passion to the County Council.

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