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Wood BOE to consider apprenticeship programs

PARKERSBURG — Wood County Schools Superintendent Will Hosaflook is proposing creation of an apprenticeship program which would allow students to get first-hand mentoring in hands-on careers.

Hosaflook said a similar idea is being explored in Putnam County Schools, and he believes students in Wood County could benefit from a program which emphasizes getting students into workplace settings to let them explore careers.

The program would be part of the community and technical education, or CTE, programs, but would go beyond the walls of the Wood County Technical Center or Caperton Center, he said.

“You might have a student who is working on a diesel mechanic program, and we could have opportunities for him to work with one of our mechanics at the bus garage, to learn from one of these people who are doing this every day,” Hosaflook said.

The school system already has a co-op program which places students in various schools, but Hosaflook said it is mostly geared toward those who would want to work in an office setting. This program, he said, would focus more on technical and trade careers, including industry and health care.

“It’s about hands-on experience,” he said. “It can be as big as we want.”

Wood County Board of Education President Rick Olcott said the concept is in line with the school system’s need to better serve all of its student, not just those who are college-bound.

“We need to remind ourselves that 48% of our students do not go on to college, and that 60% of the jobs in our region do not require a college education,” Olcott said. “However, they do require a technical skill. That is where career and technical education needs to meet the challenge.”

Olcott said as the needs for employees change, the district’s programs should change as well.

“We develop programs in career and technical education that possess a natural bridge to roles in local industry,” he said. “There is tremendous untapped potential across the medical field, construction trades, maintenance support functions, cosmetology, etc. to be developed and energized to provide a natural migration from career and technical education into the work force.”

The idea is still in its initial stages, and Hosaflook said he wants to talk to the Mid-Ohio Valley Chamber of Commerce and area businesses to see what kinds of opportunities might be available. Hosaflook said Wood County Schools also might be able to work with West Virginia University at Parkersburg to provide students college options for career paths which might involve additional training.

Olcott said he hopes to see more details fleshed out in the coming months.

“The superintendent as well as multiple board members are very aligned in getting the right strategies and leadership energized to make that a reality for WCS and our local community,” he said.

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