The High Country Workforce Development Board recently held a High Country Youth Summit in Blowing Rock. Attendees came from a seven county area and represented a wide segment of the community, from schools, agencies, and non-profits to businesses. The purpose was to discuss ways to cultivate the high country’s future workforce. The forum set the stage with information from the perspective of one local school system, state data, young adults who are mobilizing, and beyond. The forum emphasized the need for school drop-out prevention, building community capacity so that youth have opportunities in our area (job and youth development), and the importance of career development awareness. While much information was shared and discussed, several things stood out.
Avery County Schools Superintendent, David Burleson presented some striking information. He emphasized that two things help lead youth out of poverty and to educational and career success: education and relationships. School success is dependent on each youth having one caring adult in their life. “No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship”.
There are so many important people who can provide that significant presence in a young person’s life. Many programs, agencies and events provide a way for us to make a difference and there are many ways we can help our schools.
Other key thoughts that popped out included continuing to find ways we can:
Keep the needs of youth in mind when serving them
Connect young people to the world of work
Help youth become aware of their interests, skills and abilities
Provide relevant, “real world” learning opportunities
Champion shared visions, community involvement and collaboration
Let's all think about how we can make a positive difference in the life of young people and support these ideals.