A pipeline connects West Memphis-area high schools with Arkansas State University/Mid-South and through it flows young people who get a head start on graduating from college as qualified technical workers.
The U.S. Department of Labor and the Southern Regional Education Board consider the ASU Mid South dual enrollment program a success model. That helps explain why approximately 51 Shelby County School Technical Career teachers toured the college on Friday during District Learning Day. They were there to soak up what they could about the program that regularly provides high school students with 25 to 30 college credits they can use on their transcripts by the time they graduate high school.
An effort is underway to get a similar program going in Shelby County. The push partners Shelby County Schools (SCS) and area colleges with the Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce (GMACW). SCS Supt Dorsey Hopson reached out to the GMACW to facilitate Friday’s four-hour tour.
Dr. Glen Fenter, CEO of GMACW and former ASU Mid-South president, gave a presentation to the instructors.
“When you talk to some of these instructors, you can see they’re very excited about the potential this represents for their students,” said Fenter.
“It’s a tremendous step forward in helping us create the vision of what we believe to be an important part of our work at the Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce, which is to create a steady pipeline of students coming out of our K-12 institutions that have a skill set ready to hit the workforce and put them in a position to create career opportunities.”
At the same time, the GMACW vision includes putting the business community in “a set of circumstances where they see that there are programs designed to meet their needs, and (that) they’ll have access to a steady stream of workers who are skilled and prepared in an unprecedented manner coming out of our school system,” said Fenter.
Talking to the instructors, Fenter said research shows that only 11 percent of employers believe that college graduates have the skills needed by employers.
And, he said, obtaining a good job, one capable of providing a family-sustaining wage, has become the ultimate standard for educational adequacy.