WACO Works Connects the Dots for Local HS Students in Washington County

Waco Works

Sandersville, Ga., (OFTC)– Forty-five students from Washington County High School (WCHS) participated in Waco Works at Oconee Fall Line Technical College (OFTC), an event geared toward exposing and informing high school students of local education and career opportunities in Washington County, Thursday, March 22.  

Waco Works is sponsored by the Washington County Chamber of Commerce and is a partnership between OFTC, WCHS, and several key industries within Washington County. 

Partnerships that Work 

The event first started in 2018 and its success has allowed it to evolve into a beneficial community partnership taking place twice a year. 

“The Chamber understands the importance of workforce development to Washington county,” shared Washington County Chamber President Katie Moncus, “and because of this, WACO Works has been a priority in our plan annually.” 

And with a mission of workforce development, OFTC was the perfect partnership to reinforce the local opportunities for education and career training. 

“We have a need for skilled labor for existing and new industries in Washington County and OFTC and Washington County High School can be a catalyst for that workforce,” shared OFTC President, Erica Harden. “We are always grateful when we have an opportunity to join other community leaders to educate and inform local students about a number of educational and career training opportunities available to them close to home.” 

“We have to expose students to the career and education opportunities right here in our county,” she added. “This is the core of what we do at OFTC.” 

Waco Works 

Waco Works first started with funds secured through an EMC Electrical Foundation Grant. After the funds were spent, it was clear the impact it had on students and local industry; so, the Chamber decided to continue sponsoring the event.  

“We want to provide each student with an engaging day packed with valuable information from the most skilled leaders in the area,” Moncus shared. “Throughout the day we showcase diverse local career opportunities for students and match the qualifications with OFTC’s available course path,” she added. “This gives the students the full picture from training into the field.” 

Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) students were chosen by the high school to participate in Waco Works and toured several OFTC programs like Criminal Justice, Nursing, Pharmacy, Accounting, Cyber Security, and Business.  

Students also toured local industries like the Washington County Sheriff Department, Washington County Regional Medical Center and Thiele Kaolin to hear from industry leaders on employment opportunities, the training and qualifications they require of their employees, and what they look for when hiring new employees. 

“Take advantage of what you have an opportunity to do today,” said Dean Wilcher, Director of Work based Learning for Washington County High School while addressing the students. “This is a great opportunity to learn about education, career training, and job opportunities close to home.” 

“Washington County has wonderful industries where you can work to provide a good living for yourself and your families,” he added. “Today is your day to network with people who can actually hire you. You never know who you’re going to meet and who can help you down the line. So, today, connect the dots – Washington County High School–OFTC–local industries-great job opportunities.”  

Connecting the Dots   

In order to meet local workforce needs, local partnerships must continue to work together, and Waco Works is a wonderful example of these partnerships, Moncus shared; “OFTC is one strong link to connecting the dots.” 

Prior to the tours, students and industry representatives enjoyed breakfast at OFTC as part of a roundtable discussion designed to facilitate a more relaxed atmosphere. 

“This event impacts hundreds,” she added. “Obviously our target is the students who attend, but it’s so much more than that… the WCHS staff, the industry leaders, the OFTC staff, all of these people get to see and hear about the opportunities in our community. These students might not enter the job force for a few years or already hold a job, but the connections and the people they are introduced to during Waco Works initiate relationships that could last a lifetime.”  

For more information about OFTC’s 130+ programs of study or the Waco Works program, visit the College’s website, OFTC.edu.