A new dynamic has taken hold in Aiken County and throughout the Aiken County Public School District, forming a blueprint for one that is emerging elsewhere in the state: Businesses want the education system to do a better job getting students ready to work, and schools want them to back up reform efforts with input and investment.
AIKEN WORKS, the county and school districts community collaborative to redefine individual success & provide opportunities to ensure highly-competent future employees, is now in its third academic year of existence and has embraced job-readiness as a guiding principle, deciding that it ought to “redefine individual success” as a good livelihood, not a college degree.
AIKEN WORKS teams up with local businesses to prepare students for the workforce through authentic hands-on paid experiences. The initiative allows Aiken County’s students to develop professional employable skill sets, while building a highly capable future workforce for the community.
Business groups have, in turn, renewed their focus on the district’s needs, recasting the future of their school system as an economic imperative. The district pushes apprenticeships and job-shadowing in high school. In just its second full year of existence (2018-2019), AIKEN WORKS/Aiken County had 18 students, across 11 county employers, participating as a US Department of Labor Registered Youth Apprentice. With 300+ students completing CATE (Career & Technology Education) programs in 2018-2019, AIKEN WORKS continuously pursues business partnerships, in order to train “Tomorrow’s Workforce” in the development of their professional employable skills.