Survey seeks local biz data for proposed career academy

Peachtree City Councilwoman Kim Learnard. File photo.

As momentum is building for the establishment of a college and career academy in Fayette County, this is a crucial month for the initiative.

Local businesses are being asked to complete a detailed online needs assessment survey that will help determine what courses are offered in a wide range of skill areas including health care and manufacturing. Time is of the essence, as the survey results are needed by the end of the month.

Russ Moore, who is consulting the steering committee formed to champion the new public school, said recently that the survey will drive the needs assessment, which is a big key to the effort being successful. The good news, Moore said, is that there is already a significant amount of support from the business community, which should help make sure the data from the survey is robust.

Business owners and representatives are being encouraged to look out for a link to the online survey in an email. Although it will take between a half-hour and an hour because of the detail needed, the survey can be closed out on a computer and will resume itself when re-opened, officials said.

Importantly, each businesses’ survey responses will remain confidential, particularly because such detailed information is needed, ranging from the unique skills needed for employees in that company, future plans for growth, the emerging knowledge and skills needed specific to the company and whether or not the company plans to leave the area in the future.

Other data requested includes the number of new hires each year, the average turnover rate and the annual training budget.

“We want to know what kind of welder you need, what kind of training they need, how many do you need, how old do they need to be, all that specific information,” Moore said.

Because of that level of detail necessary, company CEOs may find it easier to delegate the survey responses to human resources or other managers, and that is a good idea, Moore added.

There are vacant jobs in Fayette County because employers are having a difficult time filling them with quality applicants, officials have said. The goal of the college and career academy is to reverse that trend.

“Most of these jobs can be filled by people trained through us with at least a high school diploma or a technical certificate,” Moore said.

Businesses will also have a chance to enter in comments of their choosing on the survey, Moore said.

The goal is to get responses from as many businesses as possible, which will be gauged by how many employees they have. All told, Fayette County has a workforce of 53,624 people.

Businesses are being encouraged to circulate the survey to other local businesses, and even those who are out of county but consider Fayette residents part of their workforce, officials said.

The survey, which will provide recommendations to help the college and career academy effort move forward, will be reissued in four years to help measure the impact of the college and career academy on improving the quality of the workforce.

The survey is online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/fayettecountyneedsassessment.

A separate survey is also in the works for parents and students, but that is designed to occur after the survey of local industry and businesses, Moore said.

The college and career academy design is twofold. It will let students take college level courses that also count as high school credits in a process called dual enrollment. But the career aspect of the academy depends on direction from the needs of the business community, which will drive the technical curriculum of the academy in order to provide a more capable workforce for local companies and industries, organizers have said.

While the college and career academy effort has strong support from local businesses and industry, it will need ratification by the Fayette County Board of Education by summer and also a start-up grant from the state of Georgia. That grant application will be submitted in the fall if the BoE gives its blessing to the effort.

Kim Learnard, who is serving as the interim CEO of Fayette College and Career Academy, said that she has talked to a number of parents about the effort and many of them are thrilled and want to learn more.

A website has been established to share information about the initiative, available at http://fayettecca.wordpress.com. Learnard wants interested persons to enter questions on the blog so they can be answered online for all to see.

Larry Sussberg
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Joined: 02/12/2009
Fayette College & Career Academy

Great opportunity to train our career tech students in areas that local businesses need employees.

As manufacturing comes back to the US and Fayette, young people will need the skills to operate sophisticated equipment and processes. This academy can work closely with local employers to train students based upon their needs. Employers can also be involved in developing the programs and activities too.

Glad to see the State is supporting such programs and the costs should be offset by the savings of consolidating tech programs from 5 high schools into 1 location not to mention that FCBOE could take additional steps by consolidating AP classes there too. It would reduce duplication allowing Tech and AP offerings to expand.

GO FCCA! and Kim, thanks for your focus on this! It's a win/win/win...win for students, win for exisitng companies in Fayette and a win for economic development and attracting new businesses to Fayette.

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