By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Effingham County seniors earn their Workforce PhDs
Workforce PhD graduates 2024
The 29 students from Effingham County High School, South Effingham High School, and Effingham College and Career Academy earn their Workforce PhD certificates on the final day of the program. (Submitted photos.)

Special to the Herald

Over the course of four days, seniors from Effingham County high schools learned how to showcase their skills, spruce up their resumes and see firsthand the industrial career opportunities available close to home through the Workforce PhD program.

“With the addition of thousands industrial jobs in the region and the quality education that we are providing in Effingham County, our graduates are uniquely positioned to thrive in the real world,” says Todd Wall, CEO of Effingham College and Career Academy. “There are so many opportunities available right in our backyard for students who are ready to work.”

Students learned the core characteristics of a great resume and brushed up on their interview skills. In addition, they gained insights into soft skills, job training opportunities, and mentorship programs available through Xcel Strategies. They attended a financial literacy session facilitated by Georgia-Pacific and engaged with industry professionals from different career stages in a panel discussion showcasing post-graduation career paths.

Halstead -- Workforce PhD
Workforce PhD students tour Halstead facility in Springfield with Warehouse Manager Mike Ogle. (Submitted photo.)
“Engaging with the Workforce PhD students over the past four years has been a really dynamic part of our ongoing workforce development efforts,” said Steve Maharaj, vice president of manufacturing at Georgia-Pacific Savannah River Mill.  “It gives us a valuable way to connect with students who are eager to begin their career journeys after graduation, and it helps students chart their course for success in workplaces like Georgia-Pacific. We’ve been a proud Effingham employer for almost 40 years, and Workforce PhD gives our team members the opportunity to share their career journeys with our future workforce.  It’s a great partnership.”

Students also had the opportunity to tour AeroDynamic Aviation, DHL, Lion Brand Yarn, Edwards Interiors, Halstead International, Diamond Concrete Products and Georgia-Pacific, as well as the construction site for Sewon America’s new facility in Rincon.

“My favorite part about Workforce PhD was being able to tour the facilities and see what it would be like to work there,” says Jesse Clifton, Workforce PhD graduate. “It was fascinating to see all of the different career opportunities that are available right here in Effingham County.”

The final session of the program was a culmination of everything that the students learned put into practice in a two-hour speed networking exercise.  A variety of industrial employers from Effingham and the region participated in this networking event including Adams Warnock, AeroDynamic Aviation, Diamond Concrete, DHL, Estes Trucking, Evans General Contractors, Genessee & Wyoming, Georgia-Pacific, Gulfstream, Halstead International, Hyundai Motorgroup, and Sewon America.

"The Workforce PhD program offers a significant opportunity for productive engagement between our students and industries," states Jessica Hood, Vice President of the Effingham County Industrial Development Authority. "We take great pride in the program's consistently impressive outcomes. In fact, neighboring communities have expressed interest in learning more to incorporate similar programming into their workforce development efforts.”

The Workforce PHD initiative, developed in 2021, aims to identify high school students interested in entering the workforce directly after graduation, providing support and resources to develop essential skills like resume writing and interview techniques.

The acronym PHD, “Prepared, Hard-working, and Dedicated,” highlights the qualities the program aims to cultivate. Through guidance and assistance, the initiative better prepares students for successful transitions into the workforce, ensuring they have the necessary tools and knowledge to pursue their career goals effectively. The program is a partnership among the Effingham County Industrial Development Authority, Effingham County School District, Savannah Technical College, and local industrial employers, aiming to offer students seeking immediate entry into the workforce the same level of support as college-bound students.