Titans2Work: Turner County aims to increase employment rate

Work-based learning prepares students for the next step in the world with customer service and manufacturing skills.
Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 7:32 PM EDT
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ASHBURN, Ga. (WALB) - The Turner County School System is introducing a program to fill the needs of employers in the county.

Ashburn’s County Chamber of Commerce and Turner County Schools are collaborating in their “Titans2Work” program.

Ashley Miller, the Executive Director at the Chamber said she saw the need from employers during a county-wide tour last year.

“We found out most of our industry, they need their customer service skills or they need manufacturing skills,” Miller said.

20 out of 80 students in the graduating class this year will be participating. They were chosen because they will plan to enter the workforce after graduating. They will take a one-week class in April either in (1) hospitality to get ServSafe Certification or (2) in manufacturing to get OSHA Certified.

Miller said the county has enough jobs for students to stay close to home after graduation.

“We’d love our kids to come back. We would love our kids to recognize the community has invested in them and its various programs,” Miller said.

Miller says there is student interest to add a medical path. Today, she is asking for community support. They are partnering with Southern Technical Regional College for the certifications. They need money to keep it going. The cost for 1 4x8′' brick is $100. For an 8x8′' brick it’s $200. The people who donate will get their name on a brick that will be placed leading to the vocational, college career academy branch at their new school.

“They are going to see all the community members and all the people that invested in them,” Miller said.

Brad Christian, an Ashburn native, and branch manager at South Georgia Banking Company, has already contributed.

“We all recognize the need for this. Hopefully, with South Georgia Bank’s contribution and other businesses in town it will be a successful project,” Christian said.

The school will open in 2025. Superintendent Matthews says the new school will only help with their current project.

“We’ve already started some of the activities to build his partnerships and fill that workforce need,” Matthews said.

Continuing will be their work-based learning classes. The classes are for undergraduates. Sophomores and Juniors were recently able to participate in a round of practice interviews with employers representing every industry in Ashburn.

The class will take a lead role in Turner County Middle and Turner County High’s upcoming expansion.

“I have a few they know what they wanna do, but we have a few that are uncertain,” Mandi Cole, the College Technical Instructor said.

Students have been exposed to other options through the class, even gaining experience through the interviewing process.

Some students are liable to change career paths.

“I really like cars and I want to learn how to fix them. I’m learning how to greet someone and how to communicate with them,” Jacob Wilson, a sophomore said.

The class is all about benefiting from past connections in the small town and creating new networks.

“I can’t tell you… I just call and they’re like yes I’ll be there,” said Cole.

Ashley Miller conducted some of those interviews

“It’s intimidating talking to a stranger you’ve never met and telling them about yourself and everything. It’s great to practice more and then they build confidence once they go through it,” Miller said.

Through work-based learning, she’s had students come to her office and take her place for the day.

On Thursday, March 30 the school is to host a job fair inviting more than 40 businesses offering careers to the students.

To find out how to donate a brick in the path click here and look at the “Featured Tab” for instructions.