SEABROOK SAYS: Our article writer today served as Superintendent of Gaston County Schools. He is semi-retired now as he continues to give to Gaston County. His subject is one that touches two hot topics: jobs and leadership.
The Coming Jobs War is a book written by Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO of Gallup, Incorporated. The book is a result of the findings of the Gallup World Poll which measures the thoughts and feelings of the world’s 7 billion citizens on global issues. The title of the book comes from the key finding of the World Poll. Clifton calls the finding one of the most important discoveries Gallup has ever made. That finding says that whether in Cairo, Berlin, Los Angeles, or Istanbul, the single most dominant thought on people’s minds is having a good job. The Coming Jobs War outlines what Clifton calls “an all-out war for good jobs” and his book examines America’s ability to win this war. The final chapter of the book predicts that for America “failing the coming jobs war will be easy, and winning will be hard.” The book ends, however, with the author noting that “the United States of America is an exceptional country with exceptional people” and “once again, against the odds, she must rise up and win.”
Clifton suggests that a key to winning the jobs war is meeting the challenge on a community by community basis rather than depending on state and federal solutions to create jobs and build a qualified workforce. This common sense approach recognizes the role of individual states and the federal government but puts the bulk of responsibility for winning the jobs war on local leadership. If Jim Clifton is right and local leadership is the key to job creation and building a qualified workforce, how well is Gaston County poised to face this challenge? My answer to this question is that we are in great shape to do our part! There are two primary reasons for my optimism.
First, local leadership in Gaston County recognizes the importance of job creation and workforce development in building a brighter future for our community. Our leaders have accepted this challenge. The Gaston Regional Chamber has established workforce development as a priority area. The GGDC is doing great work in promoting the image of our county. Gaston College has implemented exciting new programs like Apprenticeship 321 to impact workforce development. The local school board has invited the business community to participate in a comprehensive look at district Career and Technical Education programs. Gaston County Schools has partnered with the Gaston Regional Chamber in developing and implementing “Educators in the Workplace” which offers teachers greater insight into jobs and careers in Gaston County. Our Economic Development Commission is exploring new and innovative approaches to bring new businesses to our county and the Workforce Development Board now provides comprehensive job fair opportunities on a monthly basis. Finally, our local NCWorks office has completely revamped its efforts to help job seekers gain tools and experiences needed to find meaningful employment. All of these workforce development partners understand that business as usual will not get Gaston County where it needs to go and they are looking for better ways to meet the jobs challenge.
Second, leadership in Gaston County understands the importance of working together. This spirit of cooperation was clearly evident in Gaston County being named one of the first Work Ready Communities in NC. While other counties have struggled to meet the high standards set for this program, leaders in Gaston County combined efforts to meet and exceed each and every requirement. By working together, elected leaders, business leaders, and workforce development partners gave our community an economic development advantage enjoyed by only six other counties in our state. This spirit of cooperation will serve us well in meeting the job creation and workforce development challenges out ahead.
In closing, I would paraphrase Jim Clifton by saying, Gaston County is an exceptional county made up of exceptional people – and we will do our part in winning the war for jobs!
Gaston County Schools