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Photo by Deb Gau
MATEC assistant principal Amanda Pedersen, center, gathers ideas from a group of area businesspeople during the Career and Technical Education Summit on Friday. Marshall Public Schools Staff asked employers in the manufacturing, health care and automotive industries to discuss workforce needs and possible ways to partner with local businesses.

MARSHALL — Marshall Public Schools is planning to expand its career and technical education programs. But CTE is important for more than just education, Superintendent Jeremy Williams said. It’s important for keeping the local economy going.

“We want to grow our own,” Williams told a group of educators and area businesspeople on Friday. The goal is for more young people to develop the skills they need for careers in key industries like manufacturing and health care, Williams said.

“There’s a need everywhere, and we know that,” said Marshall High School Principal Brian Jones.

MPS held its second Career and Technical Education (CTE) Summit on Friday.

The meeting brought together school district staff and close to 50 businesspeople from the automotive, health care and manufacturing industries.

“We wanted to get some input from you,” said Williams. The feedback gathered from area employers would be used to help shape the school district’s CTE program, he said.

“This can’t just be a Marshall project,” he said.

Last week, MPS closed on property in Marshall that will be renovated for welding, automotive and certified nursing assistant training programs, Williams said. The goal will be to start those classes next fall, but MPS also hopes to expand in the future.

Williams said the school district wanted to hear what employers’ staffing needs were, and the kind of skills they needed in new hires. Discussion groups were also asked their ideas for ways for businesses to partner with the school district, like through job shadowing or internships, or other partnerships.

The small group discussions at Friday’s event covered a wide range of topics. At one table, employers talked about the importance of vocational and technical colleges in building the skills and knowledge young people would need in the automotive industry. At another table, businesspeople said hands-on experience was helpful for getting young people familiar with industrial settings. Assisted living managers said English language skills sometimes posed a barrier for otherwise great employees.

All three groups said they also wanted to see applicants with good job interview skills and “soft skills” like having a good working attitude.

Williams said he planned to report back to the Marshall school board with the feedback gathered Friday. MPS will also be looking to form an advisory committee with area businesspeople, which will help guide the planning for CTE programs, he said.

Williams said the participation in the summit was strong. He estimated about 47 out of 60 businesspeople invited to the event responded.

“It’s good to feel the community excitement,” he said.



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