Peabody Workforce Development connects PMHS juniors with local businesses, industry partners

RPSB is piloting a workforce development program that connects local businesses and industry partners with Peabody Magnet High School junior students.
Published: Sep. 7, 2023 at 5:11 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 7, 2023 at 5:23 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - In a first-of-its-kind event, the Rapides Parish School Board (RPSB) is piloting a workforce development program that connects local businesses and industry partners with Peabody Magnet High School students in their junior year. Peabody juniors will gain a unique opportunity as local businesses and industry partners around Central Louisiana will mentor the students for the entire school year and beyond. Students interacted with local businesses to get a feel for each industry in attendance.

“We’re gonna have the juniors come in, we’re gonna mentor them for about a year, a year and a half. When they graduate, when they turn 18, they can come work for RoyOMartin on weekends and then we’re gonna have them hopefully transition to a full-time job after they graduate high school and decide not to go to college,” said Joel Byram, human resources manager at RoyOMartin Plywood. “We have careers right here in Central Louisiana where they can come work.”

“We’re local, we’re within walking distance from most of the students, and we’re the only manufacturer within the city limits of Alexandria,” said Donald Lacombe, organizational development coordinator at AFCO Industries. “We’re a quiet secret, nobody knows that we’re an aluminum extruder right here in Alexandria and our products get shipped all over the world.”

RPSB and the Alexandria Police Jury Workforce Development Program collaborated to provide employer advice on what to look for in hiring candidates and mentor interested students throughout their junior year. This initiative aims to foster a relationship with these mentors, which will be present upon graduation.

“They’re realizing that they have some really high-paying jobs, high-demand jobs right here in their backyard,” said Charmelle Joffrion, 11th-grade administrator at Peabody Magnet High School. “So, they don’t have to move away to Baton Rouge or Shreveport. We have Cenla partners who are willing and able to partner with our students right now in high school so that they can have that workforce when they leave.”

Joffrion said it is great to see the workforce pipeline being made in Rapides Parish and is excited to see students get first-hand experience and build relationships with their mentors.

“It’s important, I’m excited, the students are excited and the community is excited,” said Joffrion. “It’s a win-win for everyone, especially Cenla.”

The students will have the opportunity to work at these businesses for four weeks during the summer, in hopes of bringing local students to the Cenla workforce.

“This is the starting of a great program,” said Byram. “We’re hoping that this program moves not just from Peabody, but to many different schools in Rapides Parish. It’s a great opportunity for these students today to hear from the 25 different careers that they have to offer right out of school.”

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