|Tue, Sep 02, 2014 10:07 AM
July 09, 2014 | 11:22 AM
Many of today's employers say young people entering the workforce are lacking skills such as critical thinking, creativity and work priorities.
In order to help bridge that gap, the Chamber of Commerce of Harrison County has been taking the Junior Achievement curriculum into the classrooms.
"Of course, we want our kids to be more prepared," Lisa Long, Chamber president, said. "That is what Indiana is trying to do with its college coalition."
Indiana College Success Coalitions have been formed in 62 of the state's 92 counties. Harrison County was recently honored as one of the top 15 for its efforts to increase the percentage of residents with education and training beyond high school.
But the goal of the Chamber begins even earlier, by encouraging students to complete high school.
"The number of dropouts is hard to fathom," Long said.
Each day, 7,000 students drop out of United States high schools, she said.
And those who don't complete their high school education are more likely to become parents of a drop-out, Long said.
That's where the Chamber comes in, to help students become more prepared to be successful.
Junior Achievement of Kentuckiana was founded in 1949 — JA has been around since 1919 — to provide youth with positive role models. It offers programs for elementary schoolchildren and has hands-on learning opportunities at its Sam Swope JA BizTown in Louisville, and middle schoolers, including its Chase JA Finance Park, as well as curriculum for high school students, including JA Real Jobs Real World and JA Career Success.
"Real Jobs Real World takes kids through the entire process, from budgeting, running the household, maintaining a vehicle, all on the average American income," Long said.
Classes this past school year used $29,538 as the average annual income.
"The activities really show how far that income goes," said Long, who taught the course at Corydon Central and South Central junior-senior high schools.
(Roxxan Rowland, the Chamber's executive assistant and marketing and event coordinator, taught the Real Jobs Real World class at North Harrison High School.)
The career-success course has students working on technical skills, either ones they have or can be trained in, along with how to think creatively, how to solve problems and how to get hired (interview, dress, work ethics).
Most sessions encompass six weeks, but volunteer instructors are flexible, allowing the school's teacher to determine whether the class will meet daily, weekly or some other variation.
"Generally, the more encouraged the teacher gets, the more involved the students are," said Long, who has been a volunteer instructor for four years.
Don Gossman of Corydon has been volunteering even longer.
This is the first year the Chamber has actively sought volunteer instructors.
Long said that any business member can volunteer.
"You don't have to be the head of the business," she said.
Junior Achievement does the background check and certifies those volunteers who will be in the classroom. It provides everything that's needed for the curriculum: the history of JA, what to say to the students and lesson plans before and during each class.
"It's really a good program," Long said. "I'm glad to be involved and appreciate the schools' support."
To learn more about Junior Achievement and its many programs, visit its website, www.jaky.org. For more information about the Chamber and how to be a volunteer with the JA programs, call the Chamber at 812-738-0120.