Some students may think construction and landscaping is just about buildings and grass, but at ENVIRO AgScience, Inc., we know that it’s so much more. It involves math, language, science and technical skills.
That’s why we are partnering with high schools in Richland School District Two in Columbia, SC to provide workforce development job shadowing opportunities to students taking horticulture courses. The critical on-the-job training and mentoring brings real-world application to the curriculum students learn in the classroom.
In April, for instance, we hosted two high school students at our Kelly Mill Park Improvements project meeting to discuss adding a parking lot and soccer field to an existing baseball complex. During the meeting, the students reviewed previous meeting minutes and construction blueprints, and they walked the site to gain an understanding of the full scope of the project.
Such practical, hands-on experience expands job readiness of students in the predominantly minority school district. Not only are they developing time management skills, increased confidence and a greater sense of responsibility, they are gaining soft skills that will make them more employable in the labor force.
We’re also helping to train these young minds to think like entrepreneurs so they can become employers in the labor force. Let’s face it: in the digital era, you can’t separate millennials from their gadgets, but we’re hoping they can one day merge their digital learning with experiences from ENVIRO to create new possibilities in the construction and landscaping community.
Beginning in Fall 2015, students will participate in planting and related grounds maintenance which can be applied as work credit towards their high school certification.
Recently, we’ve expanded the program in association with CCEB Venue Partners to skilled tradespersons who receive internships with subcontractors in the Greater Columbia area. All workforce candidates receive a work skill aptitude assessment and complete a month-long training program with an emphasis on soft-skills training, to include punctuality and workforce etiquettes. The goal is to equip them for construction jobs with the Spirit Communications Multi-Use Venue in Columbia.
Thanks to the vision and commitment of ENVIRO leadership, our workforce development program has been so successful that several graduates have been hired for dorm renovation projects at the University of South Carolina Historic Horseshoe. We were also recognized by Richland School District Two Institute of Innovation (R2i2) Executive Committee for our commitment to workforce development initiatives.
We plan to implement our model in future projects throughout the region as part government and non-profit organizations workforce initiatives.
We use Workforce Development initiatives as just one of the ways ENVIRO “pays its civic rent” to the community.
Pictured is ENVIRO Landscape Architect, Patrick Livingston and Greg Gable and Joseph Byrd of Blythewood High School