Houston County Schools prepares students for the Robins Region jobs of tomorrow.
Home to Robins Air Force Base, the Robins Region has become a breeding ground for innovation in the technical, scientific and digital-based industries. Helping fuel this growth is a large pool of home-grown talent, thanks to the career readiness and college preparatory programs of Houston County Schools and its partnerships with local businesses, colleges and universities.
For example, Houston County Schools partners with Project Synergy – an off-base high-tech software facility developed to support the workforce needs of Robins AFB and to introduce students to careers in software development. The program offers students college coursework and summer internships to give them real-world experience and help prepare them for future careers.
“Robins Air Force Base is a big consumer of software engineers, and they are looking to grow their workforce in that area. We have close to 2,000 graduates each year, and a lot of times, those students leave the region to go to college and don’t return for work,” says Mark Scott, superintendent of Houston County Schools. “Our thought process is to engage those students earlier, get them involved in college coursework and internship opportunities so that even as they go off to college, they’re able to come back and find meaningful employment as software engineers.”
The school system also teams up with Central Georgia Technical College (CGTC) to host an aerospace summit, which introduces students to the various career pathways available on and around Robins AFB.
“Although Robins is somewhat of a manufacturing facility, it’s also a city within a city that provides lots of services, so they’re looking for all kinds of workers, not just those that support the direct operation of the aerospace industry,” Scott says. “We also host a health care summit we’ve dubbed ‘More than Scrubs to show students that a career in health care is not just about being a nurse or a doctor, but that there are other opportunities in areas, such as technology, construction, even HVAC and plant operations, that help keep a large hospital up and running.”
Getting Ready for Work
The school system’s Career Academy allows students to take supplemental career and technical courses and receive industry credentials in more than a dozen career pathways, including culinary arts, engineering and technology and sports medicine. A board of directors led by local business leaders helps advise the academy on what skills students need to be successful in the workforce.
“We are growing tomorrow’s workforce, so it’s up to us to make sure that our pathways align with industry needs in our community,” says Sabrina Phelps, principal of the Houston County Career Academy.
Phelps says the academy teaches students the technical skills needed for a specific career and the soft skills required to be a productive employee.
“We conduct resume-writing workshops and hold mock interviews with our business partners, and each student is required to create a career portfolio,” Phelps says. “We also help students find internships through our work-based learning program so they can get hands-on experience. We like to say our students graduate ‘workforce ready.’ Not only are they college and career ready, but these students are equipped with the tools that will help them in any industry.”
Phelps says CGTC employs most academy instructors, and students can earn college credit through a dual enrollment program. In addition, the school system’s Power 15 program works to ensure all students graduate with at least 15 college credits.
In addition to dual enrollment courses at the Career Academy, the school system also provides opportunities for students to take classes on the Central Georgia Tech campus.
“We went from just over 900 students to over 2,700 students in dual enrollment programs. We believe this will get the student who maybe hadn’t really thought about college to think about it as a possibility,” Scott says. “If they see they are able to do the coursework, they might be inspired to get a head start on their career and enter the workforce more quickly after graduation.”
If you’d like to learn more about the Robins Region, check out the latest edition of Livability Robins Region.