LAURINBURG — The Career Technical Education programs at Scotland High School have a goal of filling the job vacancies in the county.
The Scotland County Board of Education met in committee with Jonathan McRae, director of secondary education and career and secondary education, about encouraging students to enroll in the CTE programs offered at the middle schools and Scotland High.
“The narrative I’ve heard a lot is there aren’t jobs in Scotland County,” McRae said. “In our business advisory meeting we had five human resource managers, including the hospital, inform us there are $3.5 million worth of vacancies in the county. These jobs need to be filled and our goal is to produce students who are skilled and ready to take those jobs.”
There are 146 job openings in Scotland County — 137 in Laurinburg and nine in Wagram, according to Indeed.com. The positions range from Walgreens cashier and Pizza Hut delivery driver to payroll coordinator at St. Andrews University and ER clinical coordinator at Scotland Memorial Hospital.
The largest vacancy at Scotland Memorial is registered nurses with 25 positions available.
The Carver and Spring Hill middle schools currently offers health science, business and technology classes along with STEM Academy. At Scotland High School, students can choose from business, culinary, agriculture, trade and industry, architecture and construction, EMT, technology, marketing, health science and robotics.
In the 2017-18 school year, the high school added two programs — EMT and pharmacy tech.
“We have not had a fully staffed EMS service since Roylin Hammond started the program. This is not only getting our students prepared, but also our county for future issues and emergencies,” McRae said. “We had students who participated in the ride-along program with EMS and actually saved two lives.”
One students saved a person by performing CPR and the other administered Narcan to a person that was suffering from a drug overdose.
McRae informed the board that 75 percent of the students in the CTE programs have either earned credentials or passed the WorkKeys test — an 11.7 point increase from 2014-15.
The focus for McRae is to encourage participation by students who have decided they want to attend a four-year college or take nothing but honors courses because the number of those students in the CTE program has decreased since 2014-15 to 27.5 percent.
Board members wanted to make sure that middle, and even elementary students, were receiving opportunities like career days and job fairs to learn about all the different professions and pathways.
“We need to talk about kids that think they have to go to a four-year college, my child is in that group,” said Jamie Sutherland. “When I pay the plumber $128 to be at my house for 15 minutes we start talking about plumbing.”
Singletary echoed that statement saying each of the career pathways the CTE programs offer should be laid out for middle school students so they can find which one they are interested in.
“That regular average kid, I want us to be able to offer them some way to make a meaningful life. It’s got to start at the middle school,” Singletary said. “Make sure they understand in one of these 16 pathways you should have some interest. We have to be able to sell that product to get the kids enrolled because if we get them graduating and still no job because we are beating our heads against the wall.”
In the past, board members said the elementary and middle schools had career days and recommended McRae revisit the idea of implementing them.
In other business:
— Richard Jacobs presented the board with two bids for the produce contracts for the 2018-19 school year. The county received two bids, one for Piedmont Produce, out of Rockingham, for $61,070.35 and the winning bid from Honeycutt & Sons Inc., out of Chadborn, for $53,014.35. The bid will be on the agenda for approval during the board’s June meeting.
— Assistant Superintendent Larry Johnson provided the board with the revisions to several board policies, including the assignment of classes for siblings, which will also be up for approval next month.
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or [email protected]