WORKS program offers paid student internships

A new program is launching this year to connect students with businesses and industries in hopes of retaining talented young people in the local economy. The Surry Yadkin WORKS internship program is a partnership between Surry Community College, Yadkin County Schools as well as Elkin City, Mt. Airy City and Surry County Schools.

At the December meeting of the Elkin City School Board, Superintendent Dr. Myra Cox called it a “three-pronged approach” connecting government, businesses and education.

“Communities need a strong pool of local workers to choose from and this partnership, we think, will help close the gap between education and industry creating a stable local economy,” said Cox.

While education plays a role in helping students learn soft skills that will benefit them in their future careers, the WORKS program seeks to match students with businesses to better acquaint them with future local career options, Cox explained.

“What we are seeing as trending in the past several years is that students will leave and not come back, but we need the students to keep our economy gong and our business and industry healthy,” she said.

“One of our goals is to help students identify future career paths and also to demonstrate that there are great jobs and careers available in our region,” added Yadkin County Schools Superintendent Dr. Todd Martin. “The four districts and Surry Community are taking a regional approach to economic development and are working together.”

“We will be working to create paid internships with local businesses and industries in Yadkin and Surry Counties. This program will be open to juniors and seniors in our high schools and in the high schools in the other districts,” said Martin.

Martin said the approach is one he does not believe is being implemented yet in other school districts in the state and one they hope will benefit students and communities.

“We will have a few students working in paid internships in the spring semester. We will also be reaching out to local business leaders in the spring semester to discuss the possibilities of allowing our students to come work for them. I believe that if we can get students in positions in our local businesses and industries, they will be willing to stay in this region after they graduate because they will have established a meaningful relationship with a local business or industry.”

The program will not only benefit students long-term as they determine their career path, but will provide immediate financial benefits as well.

“We will have some students who will be working in paid internships in the spring. These students were interviewed and selected from a pool of candidates. They will be working every day while also working to complete their education requirements. This can be a game changer for these students and their families because they will be earning an income while also establishing themselves with their employers. I believe this will open future doors for them in their places of employment,” said Martin.

Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.