Auburn Career Center Focus: Workforce Development
January 13, 2022 by Amy Patterson

Besides being among the county’s largest employers, school districts are also working to educate the workers of the future.

Besides being among the county’s largest employers, school districts are also working to educate the workers of the future.

Berkshire, Cardinal, Chardon and Kenston Schools, along with six Lake County districts, are served by Auburn Career Center in Concord Township. ACC Superintendent Brian Bontempo said the school provides training for in-demand jobs in the region.

The region’s most in-demand fields include information technology, healthcare and manufacturing, Bontempo said.

In addition to adult training programs, ACC has been working toward a point where every program will give students the opportunity to earn college credit, as well as earn an industry credential, he said.

“We’re addressing the local workforce needs, but we’re doing it in a way that gives students options for when they want to enter the workforce, whether that’s after high school or after additional training or schooling,” Bontempo said.

Younger students are starting to show interest in careers in the skilled trades, Bontempo said, adding he credits local school districts for partnering with ACC to promote career readiness.

In a micro-credential program, representatives of local industries train middle school students on how to use a tape measure and a ruler. As a result, each student attains a micro-credential that can be applied to an industry credential program in high school, if the student chooses that path. The idea, he said, is to give students early options and help them discover their interests.

“From every level – parent, student, taxpayer – the better informed a student is about what’s out there, the more likely they are to get into a path they’re successful at, which is a good use of everybody’s resources,” Bontempo said.

Through another program, ACC provides equipment to high schools to allow ninth- and tenth-graders to get hands-on experience with manufacturing.

“I really think that the school districts do an amazing job,” he said.

Chardon Assistant Superintendent Ed Klein said his district is implementing a career based intervention program, which teaches workforce development and introduces students to career exploration and skills training. Through the district’s partnership with ACC and area employers, students can establish relationships, or pursue internships, with local companies.

Chardon is also in the process of creating a training program specific to manufacturing to allow credentialing for students as certified production technicians.

Additionally, Berkshire, Cardinal and West Geauga schools have partnered with ACC, iSTEM, Kent State – Geauga and Lakeland Community College in the Geauga County Business Advisory Council, which fosters collaboration among schools, businesses and the communities in Geauga County.

The collaboration, which includes representatives from local business, the Geauga Growth Partnership and the Alliance for Working Together, helps promote awareness of the local labor market, promote work-based experiences within businesses and help students prepare for successful learning and employment opportunities.