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Woods Mill, Gainesville students get lifelong skills through joint class
Welding, employability course partnership with Lanier Tech, Goodwill
A Wood's Mill High School student practices welding at Lanier Technical College. The lesson is part of an employability skills class, taught in partnership with the high school, Lanier Tech and Goodwill.

There’s a class at Wood’s Mill High School in Gainesville that teaches a variety of job readiness skills, including resume building, professionalism and welding.

The welding and employability course, which is also open to students at Gainesville High School, is taught through a partnership among Wood’s Mill, Lanier Technical College and Goodwill.

The course gives students an opportunity to earn industry certifications while acquiring important skills, according to Wendy Savitz, course facilitator and counselor at Wood’s Mill High School.

“Wood’s Mill has been a partner with Goodwill Youth Employment Services for I think five years now,” Savitz said. “But this is the first year that we’ve taken some of the Goodwill programs and invited Gainesville High School to participate, as well.”

The course is primarily broken into two parts. Donielle Boop with Goodwill teaches “soft skills” in the classroom Monday through Thursday, and the nine participating students spend two and a half hours each Friday at Lanier Technical College practicing “hard skills,” or welding.

“When they go to Lanier Tech, they all have their own welding stations,” Savitz said. “So they really are getting 100 percent hands-on time when they are scheduled to be in the lab.”

Boop said the students do not get Lanier Tech credit for the work, but they do get national certification.

“They will have a nationally-certified welder come in and evaluate their welds,” she said. “They’ll also document the number of hours they’ve done in welding, so they can show that to an employer and demonstrate that they do have that crediting.”

Boop’s class also includes OSHA 10 certification, which is an Occupational Safety & Health Administration training through the U.S. Department of Labor.

“They get that with me during class, and then they get job readiness training during the week, as well,” she said.

Job readiness includes resume assistance, financial literacy training and tips on professionalism in the workplace. Savitz said the class combines these soft skills and hard skills in a tangible way.

Savitz said there is a shortage in Georgia and nationwide of skill trades and people qualified to take such positions, including welding.

“Baby boomers are retiring, and as they retire, there are not enough qualified candidates to take over those positions,” she said. “It’s certainly something that as a school system we should at least introduce students to the fact that these types of careers are high-growth, high-demand. And the more training you get, they can be very, very lucrative.”

She said one of the primary goals of the course is “certainly” to introduce students to career opportunities in skill trades.

“There is kind of an idea that these careers are not as enticing as those who require a four-year degree, but they really can be,” Savitz said. “It’s really changing that mindset.”

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