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Kings and United Way of Warren County Partner in Workforce Development

Posted on: May 10, 2019
In Demand Jobs Signing students
On Monday, May 6, 2019, five Kings High School students were honored by Lt. Governor of Ohio, Jon Husted and Ohio State Senator, Steve Wilson as a part of Ohio In-Demand Jobs Week. At the event, Ben Johnson, Zachary Layman, Josh Moore, Gabe Ventura, Jaime Razo, Jack McDonald, and Jakob King signed their intent to join the workforce after graduation.
These students have been a part of a new initiative at Kings High School. Meeting the needs of Warren County businesses prompted the United Way of Warren County (UWWC) to create a Workforce Development initiative. Aaron Reid, Executive Director of UWWC began working on this initiative after he met with business leaders in Warren County who stressed to him that there was a need to improve the skills and knowledge of residents to be able to meet employer demand.
The initiative includes a collaboration with Warren County school districts, including Kings, post-secondary education, and local businesses. Leaders identified two untapped “markets” and jobs of the 21st century, such as manufacturing, health, and STEM that weren’t being met locally. They focused on Warren County high school students who plan to enter the workforce immediately after graduation, as well as those students who do go to college but with the goal of bringing them back to Warren County to work.
The pilot program began in November of 2017 and since the full launch of the program in September 2018, over 200 Warren County students from five schools have been part of the program with 750+ student/company engagements such as company presentations, tours, and job shadows.  Results of the inaugural year, across all schools, include 8 spring semester internships and 16 students hired for full-time employment post high school graduation. Kings High School has been involved and leading since its inception with the results this year of 50+ students discovering career pathways and being prepared for the workforce, 7 spring semester job shadows, and 6 students securing full-time employment post-graduation. 
How does the program work? School counselors identify students who would be viable candidates. They are offered Workforce readiness classes and small group instruction that includes presentations from companies that supplement the curricula with real-world application. These companies provide presentations, tours, and then offer workplace experiences such as job shadowing. The United Way Workforce Development Director, Joe Schroeder works with the companies to develop career pathways such as apprenticeships, internships, and career progression plans. They work one on one with students to connect them to these pathways based on their interests. Finally, United Way Workforce Development will follow new hires to maximize retention and broker ongoing education and training.
In the classroom students are working on developing soft skills that are essential in the workplace, such as the importance of career effective communication, having a positive attitude, teamwork, work ethics, and so much more. They have also worked on job seeking skills such as completing applications and interviewing. Students have developed personal resumes, know how to write a cover letter, a follow-up letter, and how to prepare for a professional interview. 
Sandra Thomas, passionate Workforce Readiness and Consumer & Family Sciences teacher at Kings High School worked countless hours on the class curriculum and setting up company tours and presentations for her classes.  Some of the places they visited include ADVICS, FECON, High-Concrete, and GMi Companies. They have also had presenters from E-Beam, Otterbein, Sinclair College, and Ohio Northwestern University. Students who were interested in health care careers took a tour of Atrium Medical Facility(Premier Health care) in West Chester to learn about careers in health care.  Thomas said, "I cannot begin to tell you how much I have enjoyed getting this program off the ground this year and seeing how the students in this program have grown and developed. I've always had a passion for working with students who need that extra TLC and encouragement."
These results would not have happened if it wasn’t for Mrs.Thomas and the dedicated counselors at Kings High School. School counselors, Debby Henderson, Chris Griffin, Heidi Murray, Alex Garvin, and Erika Volker developed and implemented plans for the program, identified and encouraged student participation, and provided the companies and United Way access to engage with the students.
Mrs. Thomas noted the United Way of Warren County has played a vital role in sponsoring this partnership."Joe Schroeder has spent countless hours meeting with several of our students helping them prepare for job interviews and map out career paths, in addition to helping to set up our presentations and tours."