Letters, Letters to the Editor, Opinion

Oct. 22 letters to the editor

Schools should offer better career readiness

If you drive through the Toyota plant in Putnam County, you will be surprised by the number of Ohio cars in the employee parking lot.

Elected officials are excited about the Nucor Steel plant coming to Mason County and the battery plant to Weirton. But both of these plants will have parking lots full of out-of-state cars unless we do a better job of training our youth.

West Virginia has the second lowest worker participation rate in the U.S. at 57% — the national average is 62%. And it’s not because of our aging population. At each age grouping, West Virginia is 4% or more below the national average.

The Higher Education Policy Commission surveys high school seniors. While 80% of the seniors express interest in going to college, less than 50% actually attend.

Today, there are hundreds of career options for our graduates. But even the most engaged parents are unaware of all the options. And in many cases, the student is on his own.

The Monongalia County School System can begin to steer students to post-secondary training by placing an additional counselor or two at each of our high schools. Every student would be assigned to a counselor and would receive their support for four years. The counselor would be required to meet with each of their clients for a minimum of 30 minutes each semester.

During their freshman and sophomore years, students would be exposed to various careers. During their junior year, they would narrow down their choices. Counselors would assist the seniors in applying and securing the funding for their post-secondary training.

This would allow more students to follow a career path of their liking and would eventually increase the state’s workforce participation rate and would fill those parking lots with West Virginia cars.

Dennis Poluga