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More than 600 work-based learning students from Dalton, Whitfield, Murray, Gordon and Calhoun came together for an employability skills seminar on March 21 at the Dalton Trade Center.
The annual Rising Professionals event allows students to attend breakout sessions covering a variety of employability and life skills. Some of the topics addressed are: money management and credit, job acquisition and advancement, communication and social media in the workplace, and team building experiences.
Work-Based Learning Coordinator Larry Tripp explained that work-based learning provides juniors and seniors an opportunity to connect classroom knowledge with real-world experiences through work site or internship placements. Students earn school credit while learning valuable career skills, and that is why this event is so beneficial for them.
"This seminar gives our students who are already working an opportunity to hear from industry leaders about the skills and abilities that will give them a leg up in the workplace," he said. "It specifically addresses many of the employability skills that are so critical in today's workplace."
The seminar sessions were led by industry professionals from Shaw Industries, Mohawk Industries, Engineered Floors, Reynolds Farm, the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce and Browne, Draper & Land.
In Dalton Football Coach Matt Land's session on money management, he talked to students about developing good saving and budgeting habits while they are young. "When I started working, I just spent my money and didn't save a dime of it because I didn't know how – nobody every talked to me about money," he said. "So, that's what we are doing today."
Dalton High senior Davis Smith said Land's advice on credit cards stuck with him the most. "I learned credit cards are a number one enemy and my first priority should always be to pay them off," he said. "It's never too early to learn that stuff."
Other sessions covered the area's regional workforce development and job acquisition skills like dress, interviewing and professionalism.
Assistant Principal Doug Shultz observed as the attendees transitioned from one session to the next. "Today students had the opportunity to look at several aspects of 'adulting.' Hopefully their takeaways will help them in their next steps," he said.
To qualify for a work-based learning placement, a student must be in grades 11 or 12 and at least 16 years old. Students must also have a defined Career Pathway in order to participate in a Work-Based Learning placement. Learn more about Work-Based Learning from the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE).