A group of Dempsey Middle School students who have expressed an interest in career-based education toured some high-tech local manufacturing facilities last week.
On Friday, Oct. 4, Superintendent Paul Craft escorted a group of students to three area manufacturing facilities: V & P Hydraulic Products, Sky Climber and Luvata.
After a business expansion and retention survey was completed by the city of Delaware, the Delaware Chamber of Commerce and Columbus 2020, it was obvious there was a disconnect between the skills needed for certain jobs in the community and the skills of the individuals, Craft said.
He said many employers have job openings but have not found applicants with the skills they need.
"Certification, licenses and software-program expertise were some of the skills that applicants didn't have," he said, "but also, some of those soft skills, such as people skills and worth ethic, were also missing."
Touring the facilities gives students an idea of what skills are required so they can decide how they will proceed with their education, Craft said.
"We wanted to take middle school students, because they have their entire high school career ahead of them to determine what they want to do," he said. "They still have a lot of decisions to make and they can spread the information they learned on the tour to their friends and family."
Craft said he believes district students have a comprehensive curriculum available to them, and he's not concerned about the students leaving the district without the necessary skills to be successful.
Craft mentioned the Leader in Me and the Power of One programs in the schools are helping to develop students' interpersonal and leadership skills.
"The soft skills are the ones that make kids great students, and will eventually make them good employees as well," he said.
One of the district's growing concerns is getting students trained in the technology needed for certain jobs.
"Students need to be immersed in technology in order to live in this culture," he said.
Craft said 47 percent of the jobs that exist right now could be replaced by technology within the next 20 years. For example, casual dining restaurants may soon eschew waiters for tablet computers that take orders right at the table.
"Jobs that we think would never be outsourced are going to be outsourced," Craft said. "Jobs in factories are going to be outsourced to technology. This is going to require our students to learn to adapt and be flexible.
"Jobs will continue to change for these students within the 50 years they will participate in the work force."
Craft said the goal of the district is to produce students who are lifelong learners so they can adapt to ever-changing job roles.
"When they leave our district, this isn't the end of anything. It's the beginning of the next part of their life," he said.