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FSCJ offers new route to work for Duval County seniors … – Florida Times

A white ball of string left Jaylen Johnson’s hands, flew through the air and plopped perfectly in his classmate’s grasp.

For that moment, unfolding in an auditorium at Florida State College at Jacksonville, the string represented a line of communication between Johnson and Peter Sok. It encouraged them to remember the very first time they met, and their relationship.

“We’ve been friends since middle school,” Johnson said. “You’ve been a good friend.”

“That’s real talk,” said Juwan Watson, associate director of student engagement at FSCJ. “Now you can never say he hasn’t said that.”

Sok then tossed the ball to the next student, already prepared with another compliment. Watson said the assignment helps students learn how to communicate effectively with their peers, an essential skill for the workforce.

That was exactly why the students gathered in Watson’s classroom.

Florida State College at Jacksonville on Thursday launched Pathways to Work, a program which will utilize innovative, accelerated workforce training strategies to prepare students in entry-level occupations in construction/trades, culinary arts and global logistics.

“The hope and goal for this program is to change the lives of each of these students by equipping them with academic and professional training,” said FSCJ President Cynthia Bioteau. “This program will work to remove barriers that hinder their opportunity for success and provide resources such as tutoring, financial literacy workshops, career advancement tools and even resources for transportation.”

Using existing programs at Andrew Jackson High School, William M. Raines High School and A. Philip Randolph Caeer Academies, FSCJ staff identified 60 Duval County students to participate in the Pathways to Work program. These students are seniors who may be risks not to graduate and, as a result, might have limited opportunity to attain a living-wage job.

The program partners with Duval County Public School and uses $350,000 from a private donor to pay for the its first year.

According to Jerry Fliger, academic director and launch director for Pathways to Work, the program’s goal is to create parity of opportunity for people around Jacksonville. So, FSCJ selected the three high schools knowing they are located in poor areas.

For the summer, students will earn a stipend while completing courses toward their selected industry certification as well as participating in other skills training. They will be taught essentials such as professional behavior, appropriate dress, communication and teamwork. As they complete their senior year, FSCJ will continue to provide mentoring and tutoring.

After the students graduate, the final phases of the program include intensive career resources and academic support.

“You have arrived,” said Cleve Warren, executive director of the FSCJ Foundation. “You have arrived at a point in your life where you make a decision about which direction you want to go — and we are going to help.”

At this end of the program, he said, each student will have a job.

They will also have the necessary tools to continue education in their selected fields.

Students participating in the construction/trades will earn industry certification in OSHA 30.

In culinary, students will earn ServSafe and Food Handler industry certifications. Those who are in logistics will receive certifications in Supply Chain Management Principles and Customer Service Operations. They will also have the option to complete a four-week paid internship.

For Arthur Henderson, the only free time his mother had was when she cooked. So, he learned to cook.

When she died on Valentine’s Day 2014, he lost his cooking companion — but more importantly, he lost his mother. Now, he’s pursuing a certification in culinary arts to make her proud. He said that thanks to FSCJ he has the opportunity to do so.

He isn’t the only one who feels that way.

Barry Jinks, a William M. Raines student, wore a beige bow-tie to the program’s launch Thursday. He said that morning he had to look up how to tie the knot, but he wanted to dress for the occasion.

“In the past week I’ve participated in this program, it has opened my eyes,” he said. “The bridge to college will be a simple one to cross with the work they are helping us with here.”

To Jinks, the week has been a one of fun and one of learning. “We are getting to learn not because we have to, but because we want to,” he said.

When he graduates, Jinks is already thinking about college. Long term, though, he wants to open his own restaurant.

Florida State College at Jacksonville anticipates an 85 percent success rate for Pathways to Work with students earning between $9 to $17 an hour at jobs of their choice. To do that, Fliger said, we know we need parental involvement.

John Wall, FSCJ provost, said to be considered a success, students need to be either employed or enrolled in higher education.

The program encourages either. “We wouldn’t put this together if it was a dead-end academically,” he said.

Back in the soft skills classroom, Watson asked his students to name what comes to mind when they think of six key ideas for success in life: travel, professionalism, community service, healthy self esteem, healthy relationships, and health.

The discussion prompts questions — what does one need for work, what should one wear — but it also highlights observations — only rich people travel first-class on airplanes. Some thoughts are serious, while others are lighthearted.

The final key area, Watson said, is education and as he wrapped up the assignment Thursday he provided the final conclusion for the handful of high school students present: “Definitely get it.”

Article source: http://jacksonville.com/education/metro/2017-06-12/fscj-offers-new-route-work-duval-county-seniors

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