By Michele Dotson  Dotson.michele@minthilltimes.com
 
Bill Anderson, Executive Director of MeckEd, addresses the Mint Hill Chamber of Commerce, hoping to garner support for workforce development at Independence High School.

Bill Anderson, Executive Director of MeckEd, addresses the Mint Hill Chamber of Commerce, hoping to garner support for workforce development at Independence High School.

Dr. Bill Anderson, Executive Director of MeckEd, made an impassioned plea to the members of the Mint Hill Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, January 24 at its monthly luncheon meeting at Pine Lake Country Club.

Anderson, a former Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teacher, principal and central office administrator, feels high schools across the country are failing to provide options for high school students.

“60 percent of high school graduates go on to four-year college,” says Anderson. “Only 59 percent of those students actually have a degree by the time they’re 27.”

Anderson went on to say that many of the students that do get degrees, often have astounding college debt, and are ill-trained for a career, even though they have a college diploma.

Forty percent of high school graduates choose not to go to college. They often leave high school with little or no workplace skills and no hope of getting a job that pays higher than minimum wage. This country-wide trend, Anderson says, is unacceptable and avoidable.

“We have to learn from other countries that are training their workforce well in high school,” he says. “Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, have 9th and 10th grade students already receiving technical training. When the rest of the world was suffering in the recent recession, Germany had a two percent unemployment rate.”

MeckEd is an independent, nonprofit organization that informs and engages the community around the critical issues facing public education.

Anderson wants Mint Hill businesses to get involved by opening their doors to the workforce of the future. He hopes that local businesses will agree to provide career exploration, internships, or apprentices for local students, particularly those involved with the MeckEd program at Independence High School, which has a full-time Career Pathways Advisor who was introduced at the meeting.

“Rusty Roberson is the Career Pathways Adviser at Independence,” says Anderson. “His position is paid for by MeckEd, and that’s what he works on full time.”

Career Pathways Advisors work with local businesses to develop partnerships to create a coherent pipeline and successful transition from K-12 to post-secondary education to the workplace.

Roberson’s job is to identify pathways toward the numerous 21st century career opportunities in the Charlotte marketplace in the fields of IT, energy, finance, motorsports, healthcare, and the ever-growing manufacturing opportunities, and place students in work-based learning opportunities.

Roberson works closely with Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) to inform students, families, and teachers about career pathways degree programs.

For more information about MeckEd, go to www.mecked.org

To contact Rusty Roberson about providing career exploration, internships, or apprentices for students at Independence High, contact him directly at 980-343-6900.