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Our View: Co-op program a win, win, win

Famed athlete Michael Jordan once said, “I want to be the bridge to the next generation.” Isn’t that what we should aspire to do — to help those who come after us?

One such program is doing just that for some young Clark Countians.

For two seniors at George Rogers Clark High School, a new co-op program has unlocked opportunity for an upward-bound career.

Brett Foley and Garrett Samuels, who study at the Area Technology Center on GRC’s campus, were the first students to complete a co-op program between the ATC and local manufacturer Leggett and Platt.

The students went through the same hiring process as full-time employees of the company.

Once hired, Foley and Samuels became part of the Leggett and Platt team, working alongside the company’s other hires doing the same work for 20 hours a week at first. By the end of the coop, they were free to work up to 40 hours a week.

As the students approached the end of their senior years at GRC, Leggett and Platt made official offers of employment to them to continue working full time immediately after graduation. Foley was even offered a promotion to working in the company’s shipping and handling department.

Both students have accepted the offers.

Now two other students are following in their footsteps and also have employment with Leggett and Platt.

While post-secondary education can be important for some, it is not for everyone. Some students desire to find solid job placement after high school and this program is a win-win-win for the students, the business and the community.

These students are gaining real-world work experience that many of their peers will not have, giving them a leg up. Immediately after high school, they can enter the workforce as skilled employees with at least a year of learning on-the-job under their belt.

The companies involved get the opportunity to train young and unexperienced employees to fit their needs, growing the next generation of managers and leaders for their organization.

For the community, programs like these not only build a more skilled and reliable workforce, but it encourages those high-quality workers to stay in Winchester-Clark County, boosting our population and improving our economy.

These are exactly the types of programs we need in our schools. Too often students feel that college is their only option after graduation. This proves that is not the case. Finding solid employment can be just as rewarding and beneficial.

Partners in Education Director Greg Yates is working with the ATC to establish more partnerships as the number of interested students increases.

We commend all those involved and encourage other local businesses to take a similar risk that has paid off for Leggett and Platt.