On April 11, representatives from the Obion County Joint Economic Development Council and Chamber of Commerce, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Williams Sausage, CenterPoint Business Solutions, Commercial Bank, NW Tennessee Workforce Board, TCAT Newbern, and Obion County Schools met to discuss the implementation of the Work Ethics Certificate program in Obion County Schools, and the impact it could have on employment in our area.
Obion County Schools Supervisor of Career and Technical Education, George Leake, explained the basics of the initiative to those in attendance, including requirements, benefits, and outcomes of the program. "We at Obion County Schools are committed to providing students with every available resource to help them reach their personal goals," said Leake. "This applies to AP classes for students who plan to attend college as well as dual enrollment opportunities for those students who wish to enroll in a technical school or go to work immediately after graduation. The Work Ethics Certificate will complement our existing programs to give students measurable criteria with which they can show employers that they are committed to becoming reliable workers. We have listened to local businesses and industries when they have stressed the need for soft skills - attendance, reliability, and trainability- and the Work Ethics Certificate will help prepare students in these skill areas."
The Work Ethics Certificate consists of a set of standards which students meet in various ways; attendance, tardiness, GPA, proof of being drug-free, earning post-secondary credit while in high school (dual enrollment, dual credit, and/or AP classes), and post-secondary enrollment are all standards in which students can earn points toward the certificate. By earning 20 points by the end of the student's senior year, he/she is awarded the Work Ethics Certificate.
Business and industry partners commit to supporting the initiative by guaranteeing an interview to any student who successfully earns the certification and a high school diploma. The business has no commitment to hire the student, only to grant an interview if all other application requirements are completed. Williams Sausage, the second-largest employer in Obion County, became a partner the day of the meeting. Hopefully, many more businesses will also invest in the future of our students and our community's future workforce.