Fayette Commission hears pitch for local college-career academy

The Fayette County Commission was briefed last week on efforts to bring a “College and Career Academy” to the county.

The goal is to not just offer dual enrollment classes for high school students to get an early jump on college credits, but also to help local industries get a trained local workforce, said Peachtree City Councilwoman Kim Learnard, who is spearheading the effort.

The key to helping the industries, and helping local students land jobs there, will be working closely with the industries and the state’s technical college system to design specific courses that give students the job skills sought by the businesses, Learnard said.

Currently there is a “skills gap” among current students who lack two key things: technical proficiency and work ethic, Learnard noted.

The idea of the CCA is to bring all of the efforts under one centralized roof, which will save costs and allow for a larger variety of skills and subjects to be taught.

One example of cost savings is in the case of dual enrollment classes, which are staffed by a teacher paid for by the college, Clayton State University, thereby alleviating the cost for an educator paid by the school system, Learnard said.

Learnard said her best guess at this point is that the career education efforts will focus on aviation, manufacturing, healthcare and the hospitality industry. She noted that the hospitality industry is losing its “engineers” who work on HVAC, electrical and plumbing systems, and they need to be replaced.

There is funding available from the state for CCAs, but it will require a formal application from the county to proceed. The Fayette County Board of Education has voted to spend $41,000 on an analysis of the effort.

“It’s a win for our industries, a win for our students and their parents and a win for our community,” Learnard said.