Start early on plans for future

Published 9:32 pm Friday, May 8, 2015

There was a time in this country when students went to school prepared. That is, their parents already had taught them etiquette and manners for both home and outside. This enabled youngsters through practice to become receptive to and respectful of the other people who would teach them. That was but one step in a staircase that would enable boys and girls to becoming productive and responsible men and women in the future.

But as society changed over the past several decades, too many children have grown up in homes where their own parents were not brought up with proper home training. Worse still, the adults didn’t value whatever they had learned and wouldn’t pass that along. That in turn has made for too many students now unable or unwilling to learn academic subjects and the interpersonal skills necessary to obtain and maintain a job.

The lack of being prepared to work was a topic of concern that Glenn DuBois heard when he was in Franklin recently. The chancellor of the Virginia Community College System sat down with leaders in business, community and industry. He suggested that a community college such as Paul D. Camp could even offer certification for what he called “soft skills” when it comes to learning to deal with coworkers and customers, and so on.

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We like that idea of community colleges offering a program that emphasizes the value of those skills. While it would have been better that such things had been taught at home or in appropriate classes through high school, better late than never.

On the topic of education, the idea of the need for going to college was also discussed by DuBois and company. We acknowledge that earning a bachelor’s degree is not a guarantee of a well-paying career. Further, not everyone has the aptitude or even desire to go away for four years. If vocational education is the way to a productive life, so be it.

But when should students and their parents start thinking about such options? Again, the chancellor had an appealing idea: Career counseling should begin in ninth grade at the latest, preferably earlier.

That jibes with our belief that the sooner youngsters gain the necessary skills to get along in life and work, the better. Further, by learning now the need to think about a career for the future, the better their opportunities to become productive and responsible men and women of tomorrow.