Georgia Power Co.’s Executive on Loan program, in which an employee is allowed to work in a community service setting, has come to the Bartow County College and Career Academy. Janet Queen, project relocation coordinator for Georgia Power’s Plant Bowen, now serves as a liaison between the BCCCA and local business and industry.
Bartow County Superintendent John Harper said the partnership between Georgia Power and Bartow County schools will allow the BCCCA to continue to work toward its goal of ensuring its students are ready to meet the needs of an evolving Bartow County workforce.
“What we were looking for is someone to bridge the gap between what we’re doing instructionally and what industry is doing and help guide our students in that direction and then introduce our students to the business community,” Harper said. “It was very discouraging to me about four years ago when we started making visits to industry [to plan for the BCCCA] to find out that we really weren’t providing them that many employees and that’s why the college and career academy was born. People were looking outside of Bartow County for employees.”
BCCCA President and CEO Paul Sabin said Queen’s previous efforts working with the BCCCA to help identify and develop career pathways makes her a valuable resource to the school system. Both Sabin and Harper said they appreciate the assistance of Georgia Power through the Executive on Loan program.
“Ms. Queen has been a volunteer in this community and has worked in this community in many different aspects and I think what she is going to bring is that connection to our business and community leaders and how that connects to the college and career academy,” Sabin said. “Specifically, what she’s going to be doing is working with business and industry and connecting them with the pathways that our students are involved in, looking at how we can connect our students with some internships and looking at how we can connect our businesses to the college and career academy to make sure they’re aligned with the skills and what our students are learning and doing are preparing them for a 21st century workforce.”
He continued, “What I’d like to do is continue to find business and industry to partner with so we can make sure we’re aligning our curriculum with what is needed out there in the workforce. Our whole goal and mission is to find opportunities for students to have jobs [and] to graduate from high school and so we want to expand that to other companies ... [and] to increase the opportunity of the current companies that are partnering with us now.
“In the fall we’re going to have Phase II of our construction where we’re going to be adding a public safety lab, we’re also going to be adding another health care lab, which is going to be in the form of physical therapy, and we’re also going to be looking at bringing in a metals program to the college and career academy and that will go along with our advanced manufacturing that we already have.
“I look forward to what this is going to mean not only for the college and career academy, but for Bartow County and these kids’ futures.”
Queen explained, beyond Georgia Power, the BCCCA is working with several other local industries to develop internship, apprenticeship and summer job programs for its students. As a liaison between the BCCCA and industry, Queen said she will help identify positions best suited for Bartow County students.
“I think that you’re going to have to take all these jobs and look at the job description itself to know where these students fit in because, No. 1, their safety is foremost so it can’t be a job that we call ‘safety sensitive,’” Queen said. “We want to put them at a job where they can be successful, we want to put them with a mentor that knows this job from inside and out.”
Queen said while students will gain hands-on learning experience through such programs, they also will be able to apply some of the soft skills they have learned at the BCCCA in a professional setting.
“It’s one thing to sit and talk to [students] when they’re in college and you explain to them what the job tends to look like, but it’s another thing in a real-life setting where they’re out here,” Queen said. “One of the things we’ve been charged with here at the college and career academy is to teach them the essentials — come to work on time ..., teach them how to dress when they come to work — all these soft skills we teach them, it doesn’t matter where they go to work, if it’s Georgia Power, Anheuser-Busch, Toyo Tire or Gerdau Ameristeel, those soft skills are going to be needed anywhere they go to work.”
She said, however, making such programs successful is an ongoing process.
“It’s all coming together, but this just doesn’t happen overnight. You can’t have a cookie-cutter effect because there are different needs at Georgia Power, Anheuser and Gerdau [for example], so this has to be kind of tailored to each individual industry or manufacturer that you’re approaching,” Queen said. “... We have to look at what these job descriptions are going to be because we have to make sure these kids are successful.
“My vision is for this to be a template. We want this to be a model as we move forward because this is not a one-time situation; this is something we want to see grow and grow and we want other industry to come on with us.”
Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce Chair Adena Harper said one example of a successful partnership between the BCCCA and business and industry is evident at the chamber, which now provides internships for two BCCCA students.
“They’re not just answering phones. A lot of it is technology based,” Adena Harper said. “It’s exciting to see staff having free time to do things they have never been able to do because they have young people who are really excited to be working the database, to be working with the website, the membership and the membership packets — [the interns] are really doing a lot for the chamber.”
Plant Manager Tim Banks said he looks forward to seeing how the partnership with the BCCCA will benefit a growing Bartow County and appreciates Queen being able to serve the academy through her capacity in the Executive on Loan program.
“At Georgia Power we have a long history of being pretty active in the communities we serve and I will tell you particularly at Plant Bowen, I’ve been here nine years and I am just astounded at how involved our people here are with the community,” Banks said. “Janet [Queen] has been in this community all her life, she is very passionate about Bartow County and every opportunity she has had in the past nine years to get engaged with any activity that is positive for this county, she has done so.
“So when this opportunity came along, Janet was naturally involved. She was the perfect person to carry the Georgia Power banner ... [because] she knows what the community’s needs are, plus I think she knows the value of the resources in Bartow County, so from my perspective there wasn’t anybody better to represent us in this county than Janet.”