GDOL annouces new program to raise graduation rates

Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) --The Georgia Department of Labor announced it's starting a Jobs for Georgia Graduates program. It part of the program Jobs for America's Graduates.

The program is aimed at motivating kids to graduate high school while teaching them skills they can use in the real world.

Officials said the partnership with the GDOL, Richmond County Schools, Textron Specialized and AT&T will give students a unique opportunity to be trained for manufacturing jobs they want to have once they graduate.

The Reaching Potential through Manufacturing, or RPM, program also helped provide at-risk students with the chance to earn their diploma while gaining experience.

Georgia's high school graduation rates is a 79.2 percent, but GDOL says the program, JGG has a graduation rate of 99 percent.

Richmond County graduation rates dropped one percent in 2016, according to Georgia's Department of Labor.

Sharon Smith is a retired teacher who taught AP courses to the 11th and 12th grade. She said not all students are as eager to graduate.

"They are put into a vocational program where they are using those skills and they know it's going to do them good later they will learn it instead of sitting in a desk writing on a sheet of paper," Smith said.

The program at RPM is the 22nd chapter of Jobs for Georgia Graduates.

There are two other JGG programs in Richmond County at Josey High School and Cross Creek High School. The program with RPM is open to students from any high school in the county, but the student must meet the qualifications to apply.

The program will give high school students hands on experience, as well as, basic skills required in a professional workplace.

Smith said this may be exactly what some students need to graduate.

"All these kids are interested in something. It might not be what they want to teach in school, but they are all interested in something, and they all have motivation toward something you just have to find out what it is," Smith said.

This first year expenses costs about 70,000 dollars, but AT&T presented a check Thursday at the press conference for 30,000 dollars.