• Opinions

Schools Need To Focus On Career Counseling

rising tide-john steinberger

July 6, 2017
By John Steinberger | Contributing Writer

The administration of Governor Mark Sanford presented the Education and Economic Development Act (EEDA), which was adopted by the South Carolina General Assembly in 2005. The legislation required students to develop career plans starting in 8th grade and to do annual reviews with high school guidance counselors about their chosen career fields in one of 16 career clusters in such areas as information technology, health sciences, and sales.

The EEDA has never been fully implemented in Charleston County School District or any South Carolina school districts. The legislation calls for students to complete annual interest inventories and to engage in job shadowing and internships in their chosen career fields while in high school. It is not happening right now. The South Carolina Workforce Investment Board website https://www.scworks.org doesn’t even mention the EEDA.

President Donald Trump has made job-training and career readiness a major emphasis of his administration. He recently met with Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and Small Business Administration Director Linda McMahon to discuss the importance of career readiness. He spoke about the need to train Americans for the jobs of the future. Trump said, “We’re here to celebrate the dignity of work, and the greatness of the American worker.”

Trump announced his executive order to expand apprenticeships and vocational training. He and his cabinet are promoting career opportunities which don’t require a four-year college degree. Trump said, “Apprenticeships place students into great jobs without the crippling debt of traditional four-year degrees. Instead, apprentices earn while they learn.”

The Trump Administration is working with states to promote technical careers among high school students, as well as veterans. The President highlighted the Wisconsin technical education program and invited combat veteran Charles Robel to the White House. Robel completed a machine tool operation class from a Wisconsin technical college and is now completing an apprenticeship which will lead to a starting salary of $60,000 a year.

Trump said, “Apprenticeships teach striving Americans the skills they need to operate incredible machines. This is not the old days. This is new and computerized and complicated. You really have to know what you’re doing. But they (advanced technology devices) create amazing products.”

The Trump Administration is working with Governors and Chief Executive Officers from major companies to expand apprenticeship opportunities. Trump said there is strong buy-in from industry: “They are fully behind our efforts to help millions of talented young American men and women thrive and flourish in our economy. Today’s apprentices will pioneer the new technology which drives our commerce.”

It is time for our school to fully implement the EEDA. For starters, our school guidance counselors need to receive annual career counselor training. They need to provide students and parents with a list of jobs in demand in our area, the qualifications needed for entry and the starting salary.

The EEDA was designed to inform college-bound and non-college-bound students about career opportunities. As much as I enjoy learning about history, how many jobs are available for people with four-year history degrees? If a student is going to invest the time and money to pursue a college degree, he or she deserves to know how marketable that degree is.

Under the EEDA, schools are supposed to have one guidance counselor for every 300 students. Few are meeting that requirement. The guidance counselors need to set time aside for discussing career plans, rather than focus on which college the students wish to attend. There are many high-skilled, high-paying jobs at Volvo, Boeing, and other area employers with job vacancies which don’t require a college degree. The objective should be future student success. Setting up apprenticeships for students and veterans will raise our median household income and standard of living.

John Steinberger is the editor-in-chief of LowcountrySource.com. To contact him, email John@LowcountrySource.com.


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