DALTON, Ga.-Colleges and high schools in Whitfield County work with businesses to learn what kinds of degrees are needed in the workforce and tailor classes to fill specific needs, education leaders said Thursday during a community breakfast.
"There are huge and significant skills shortages out there that are not being met," said Craig McDaniel, president of Georgia Northwestern Technical College. "We are trying to determine what programs to offer."
McDaniel; Dalton State College President John Schwenn; Danny Hayes, superintendent of Whitfield County Schools; and Jim Hawkins, superintendent of Dalton Public Schools, spoke at the breakfast in the Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center. The event was hosted by the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce.
McDaniel told the group that the technical college has received strong support from the business community since opening a campus in Whitfield County in August. Although it started with only 240 students, the campus is expected to grow to about 1,000 students next year, McDaniel said.
High schools in the Whitfield and Dalton systems partner with the colleges so students can take dual-enrollment classes and get a start on college credits before they graduate from high school.
Whitfield County also allows students from other high schools to take classes at the Whitfield Career Academy, Hayes noted. The academy is a technical high school that prepares students for such fields as beautician and automotive repair.
In the future, Hayes and Hawkins said, they hope to see even more emphasis on learning and less on boundaries between educational systems.
Hayes said educators and businesses look at education through different lens, so it is important to learn from each other.
"It should be a blend of both visions; we can get caught up in tunnel vision," he said.