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A career without college? In Hopewell, Virginia, USA, Evonik is preparing high School students for attractive jobs with a great future—even without a college degree
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Many high school students in the USA consider college the safest route, or even the only route, to a really good job. However, only 30 percent of students actually graduate from high school. And today even high school graduates are increasingly ending up without jobs, in most cases with huge college tuition debts. But Evonik Industries is committed to making sure that it’s possible to also have a career without a college degree.
At the Evonik plant in Hopewell, Virginia, there are challenging and well-paid jobs that don’t require a high school diploma. To prepare high school students to take on one of these jobs, Evonik has set up a program called “Job Shadowing.” In this program, high school teachers follow Evonik employees around as they go about their jobs. Maurice Brown, a math teacher at the Carter G. Woodson Middle School in Hopewell, was one of these teachers. During the program he learned about Evonik's technologies and products, such as foams for car seats and the ingredients of shampoos for personal care. "Evonik manufactures many products that we use every day," says Brown, who is impressed by his experiences. As an ambassador for the Group, he is disseminating this message in his classroom. He also conducts tours of the plant for his students and explains to them what he has learned there about science, engineering, and technology. The program’s objective is to give Young people a realistic picture of the opportunities and challenges of the working world and encourage them to think about their future careers. "We want to get the students enthusiastic about science and technology so that they develop an interest in careers in our sector," says Philip Munson, the director of the Hopewell plant.
Evonik has operated in Hopewell for over 30 years, and more than 100 employees work at the local plant. Evonik is running the “Job Shadowing” program not only for the benefit of its neighbors in the region but also for its own advantage. Many young people have only vague ideas about careers in industry, so they often believe that entering college is their only option. They have no idea that they can find good jobs in their own home towns and stay in their familiar environment. Companies feel the consequences of such decisions, as there is often a shortage of well-qualified young workers, especially in areas outside the big cities. "By getting involved at the local level and pointing out future perspectives, Evonik is making an effort to attract young job applicants, win their loyalty, and ensure a reliable supply of well-qualified employees," says Munson. That's good for the company, good for Hopewell, and good for the young people in the neighborhood.