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Job simulation project starts

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From Staff Reports

Friday, April 26, 2019

The Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments is working with education and technology partners to develop innovative ways to introduce area youth to career pathways available within the five-county region.

The initiative, called the Regional Simulation Partnership, is intended to use virtual game simulations that match up with local area industries or occupations and use a designed career exploration format to generate youth interest in jobs that don’t require a four-year college education.

“Many of these simulations are designed so well that they essentially create a virtual work environment for the youth, and they allow the youth to perform simulated tasks that a typical worker may encounter while being employed in one of the occupations” said Council of Governments Executive Director Robert Hiett.

The simulation games can be used with designed curricula to provide a structured approach to exploring a career occupation and incorporated into existing activities like field trips and access to occupational experts employed within the region. The current simulation library for the Regional Simulation Partnership covers occupations that deal with agriculture, car mechanics, logistics, computer building, heavy equipment operation and medical office management.

“The simulations are not the same as those you would find if someone was earning an industry level credential. However, they are designed to be fun for youth, and generate interest in an occupation. They can also introduce and enhance teamwork, financial literacy, leadership and coordination skills. They can also provide a high level overview of an industry or occupation,” Hiett said.

The Council of Governments serves as the regional Economic Development District for its five-county area, and this project lines up with its strategic goal of engaging in activities that help to create a talented and innovative workforce. The partners joining the Council of Governments in the regional simulation partnership are the Turning Point Workforce Development Board, Wilson County Schools, Northampton County Schools and Foundry1, a research organization that uses a philanthropic approach to identify new ideas, approaches to learning and tools to improve the education experience for students across the world.

A key strategic partner in this effort is the Turning Point Workforce Development Board because it funds job training activities for area youth, and it has a strong coordinating presence with its area youth council.

“Turning Point Workforce Development Board is excited to partner in this initiative of enhancing career exploration to young customers through simulation. Studies have shown that workplace based simulations can be used to assess a prospective employee’s skills. These simulations not only assess candidate ability in the technical areas but also assess problem solving, communication and team abilities,” said Michael Williams, workforce director at Turning Point Workforce Development Board.

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