EDITORIAL: The path to gainful employment is there for the taking

What if there was an opportunity for high school sophomores, juniors or seniors to take classes at a technical college and earn associate degrees at the same time they were earning their high school diplomas? What if, after graduation, they have the choice of going to work using an industry-recognized credential that they’ve already earned or apply the credits they’ve earned to a four-year college or university? And here’s the kicker. It hasn’t cost them a cent. No student loan debt. Nothing.

We think many a parent and student would jump at such a chance, but at least in Bibb County that hasn’t happened. The program exists, but only a handful of students, when compared with surrounding counties, are taking advantage of this opportunity. We think it’s because they don’t know about it, but if they saw the picture and story of Kaycee Powell, who started the welding program while a student at Rutland High School, in Monday’s newspaper, they would soon start asking a few questions. Welders are in high demand all over the world and many are snatched up as soon as they receive their certification.

The dual enrollment program runs the gamut of occupations, but all of the skills learned lead to jobs that come from real-world training that is difficult for a high school student to attain. While some student have an idea of what they would like to do, these students have done it and have industry-recognized certificates to prove it. That puts them on the pathway to becoming successful taxpaying contributors to society.