LUMBERTON — When Hunter Dudley goes to his electrical class at the Robeson County Career Center, he knows it is no longer a standard class. Now the St. Pauls High School 11th-grader punches a clock on the way in.
His class is now a simulated workplace called Wire Nut Electrical Company.
“I feel really prepared for the job and the work choice that I am going in. We actually wired all of the time clocks out here. I feel like it is more professional now. Every Tuesday, we wear the uniform. I am a helper right now, but I am trying to work my way up to a foreman. We clock in each day. We get our tools and go to work and clock out. It is pretty fun,” Dudley said.
On Thursday, the Robeson County Career Center held a ribbon-cutting to celebrate the opening of 12 new simulated workplaces at the center. Business leaders and service organizations were on hand to applaud the transition.
Career Center Director Herman Locklear worked with instructors over the summer to train for this pilot program.
“All 12 of our programs have implemented simulated workplaces, which gives students an opportunity to learn on-the-job skills while in school,” he said. “With the simulated workplaces, students will be responsible for clocking in every day, being there on time and then of course filling out applications for positions in the company. Twelve classrooms have become 12 different companies. The program will be here for this year, hopefully next year we will look at moving it to the base schools.”
The students and instructors named the companies, which include names such as West End Design and Engineering, From the Group Up Masonry Co. and Life Savers Inc.
Robeson Community College President Pamela Hilbert says these new changes will only complement what the students are learning at the Career Center.
“To hear some of our local HR directors at Elkay, Kayser Roth and Campbell’s talk, skills such as these are really important,” she said. “Even our faculty will talk about students who don’t understand they need to come to class on time, they need to dress appropriately because that is part of their training for the real world.”
Dressed in a Wrench Head Automotive Polo shirt, Emily Munday will dress in business attire one day a week. The St. Pauls High 11th-grader aspires to be a marine mammalogist. She says her desire to study cars helps her be self-sufficient.
“I actually like it more now because they are actually showing us what it is like to have a career instead of teaching us the curriculum and assuming that we know it. I punched in and sat down and checked my email because I am the service writer for Wrench Head Automotive,” Munday said.
“We are hoping to get to the point where we speak the language of company, not the classroom. They will know how to not to use their phones, be at work on time and do a good job. These student can apply for different positions and levels within the workplace,” Locklear said. “They fill out an application, must have letters of recommendation and go through an interview process to get those positions in their class.”
Tasha Oxendine is the public relations officer for the Public Schools of Robeson County.