Georgetown City Council approved Sept. 25 a grant worth more than $200,000 from the Georgetown Economic Development Corp. to purchase equipment for two prototype labs at Georgetown and East View high schools.
The grant money will help the district create functioning machine shops at each high school that would give students hands-on experience in manufacturing, said Phil Timmons, director of career and technical education with the district.
Equipment in the prototype labs will include mills, lathes and drill presses.
"What we are trying to do is help give them some of the practical [experience]," engineering teacher Dan Weyent said. "For the kids that go on to college, they are ahead of the game because they have been exposed to some of the concepts, they know a lot of the basics, and the kids that want to go right into the workforce, they have a marketable skill."
The agreement with GEDCO also calls for the district to add a Certified Production Technician certification program, which would allow students to graduate from high school with a certification to immediately enter the workforce or continue on to higher education, Georgetown Economic Development Director Mark Thomas said.
The certification is recognized by the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council, a nationwide certification organization, and is an industry standard, Timmons said.
"This is a leg up for students and a huge leg up for our local industry," Timmons said, adding that the district has met with key leaders at local manufacturing companies to determine what skills are needed in the local workforce.
"Workforce development is becoming increasingly more important for economic development for the retention and expansion of existing companies and the recruitment of new companies," Thomas said. "Statistics have shown that 80 percent of all jobs now require technical training. GISD already has a robust technical training program that prepares students for technical careers in many fields."