TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) — Businesses across the state have complained about the lack of a skilled work force. This has prompted discussions at all levels about increased funding for community colleges and universities to improve training programs. But it’s also increased pressure on high schools to give students a leg up at an even earlier age.
Anna John Hand is doing more than just ringing up a sale at The THS Wave Zone. She is getting hands-on experience in managing a business. It is part of the marketing and economics program offered by the Tupelo Career Technical Center.
“We learn how to write checks, reconcile your bank statement, things you will have to know how to do in your everyday life, so it’s very helpful for any field you go into, you will have to know business techniques,” said Hand.
That is the focus of the high school’s career technical center, to provide training and education that prepares students for a wide range of careers, whether they are college bound or not. There are 12 courses offered for fields such as health science technology, engineering, culinary arts and digital media technology.
Not all of those careers require a four-year college degree, but the salaries can be high. For instance, THS career technical students recently took a tour of ICC’s welding program.
“Those students would go for a year training, then they could start out making 80 thousand dollars a year, in welding,” said ICC Instructor, Donna Ivy.
Students say the courses expose them to all aspects of a particular career pathway.
THS Senior, Chris Trimble said: “This year we learned how to open up a business, so it’s prepared us like if you were to go into business, it’s a lot of responsibility.”
Another THS Senior, Daniel Peatry said this about the real world experience: “I thought it was just going to be a class of cooking, it’s the management part, helps you understand how you will manage your own money, in the real world.”
There are also opportunities for dual enrollment, meaning students can get college credit for certain courses.
The Tupelo Career Technical Center serves high school students in the Lee County School District.