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RKR continues to support YouScience in West Georgia schools.

Uncovering Talents

Joe Garrett For the Times-Georgian

February 24, 2018

The test revealed "Elevator Operator."

It also listed several other occupations, but this particular career recommendation stood out among the many suggestions. My ninth-grade class had finished taking a career assessment test and the results surprised me.

"How hard is it to push a button that says '10th floor?'" I asked myself.

Since that day I've operated an elevator numerous times and maybe the assessment was on target as I usually gravitate to the buttons, speak to people and always ask those boarding, "What floor?" as I press the button.

"You missed your calling," said local career and advancement in education expert Matt Carter.

"What did your results suggest?" I asked.

"Shoe cobbler," Carter replied.

"Do you like working on shoes?" I asked him.

"I once put a piece of tape on my cleats when they broke at football practice," he replied. "Maybe there was some validity to that assessment."

What are you going to be when you grow up?

We all ask our children and grandchildren this question when they're little and love their answers which usually range from football player to fireman to ballerina.

Unfortunately, most young adults don't have an answer to this question.

Last week I volunteered as a member of the Rotary Club of Carrollton in the YouScience Project and spoke to a group of ninth-graders at Carrollton High School.

YouScience is funded by the Georgia Department of Education and the Technical College System of Georgia. The Rotary Club of Carrollton, along with local businesses, are providing the volunteers and funding for the summary reports which will help students identify their aptitudes, interests and career choices.

"We want them to understand how their gifts and passions fit with real-world careers," said Rotary Club member Jill Duncan. "We want to help our local students understand they have abilities, talents and gifts that are meaningful and hopefully inspire them and broaden their vision of what they can truly accomplish. In the end, we want them to be successful and independent doing something they love."

As president of AGC-Georgia during 2014-2015, R.K. Redding Construction CEO & Founder Randall Redding supported several workforce development initiatives in response to the construction industry's workforce shortage. Around the same time, Redding learned about YouScience. He quickly decided to purchase YouScience Profiles for more than 4,000 students in the West Georgia area.

"Since instituting YouScience in many of the schools we work with in the area, we have heard so many wonderful stories about students excited to find their career path," said R.K. Redding Construction Vice President of Marketing Steven Hill, who participated in the Carrollton High School project last week along with members of the Rotary Club of Carrollton. "At the same time, we are helping build a larger more diverse workforce for our industry and others that face critical labor shortages."

The assessment takes an hour and a half to complete and I must confess, it's good. Actually, it's really good.

As a volunteer, I was required to take the YouScience assessment and it reaffirmed for me I'm in the right career (and it didn't list elevator operator as a recommended option). I wish I would have had such a program when I was in high school.

I hope all of my children will eventually take this assessment in the years ahead because I believe it will help open their eyes to colleges and careers they may have never considered, and I can definitely see as parents how it will help us have productive conversations with our children.

"Our role is to help students uncover their natural abilities," said YouScience CEO and co-founder Philip Hardin. "We also want to expand the vision of opportunity for those who complete the assessment as many have a narrow view of what's available to them. And by partnering with programs like the Rotary Club of Carrollton, YouScience allows students the opportunity to interact with professionals in their communities."

Unfortunately, for too many of our young adults who perform poorly on standardized tests, they often limit their vision and feel inferior to those high scorers.

"Everybody is a genius," wrote the late Albert Einstein. "But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it's stupid."

YouScience, however, is a standardized assessment that gives students hope.

"In Tennessee, for example, the average ACT score for high school students is 20.3," said Hardin. "That tells half of the kids they have no hope in college and many feel they have no value. YouScience helps these kids find their place."

By connecting students with more career options that they have an aptitude for, it helps the students build confidence and broaden their horizon. That type of exposure especially helps economically disadvantaged, minority and female students.

"If you ask a group of young females if they have an interest in manufacturing, they often say they don't know," Hardin said. "The default answer is usually they aren't interested. When we tell them they have natural ability for it, that becomes a conversation."

YouScience is available to the public via its website for $29 per participant. If your young adult children or grandchildren are having a hard time finding their way in this world or even if you are unhappy in your career, I highly recommend this program.

In the meantime, I'll make a promise to you if we should ever ride an elevator together. I promise to greet you and then offer to push the button for you by asking the simple question: "What floor?"

It's important to always have a backup plan. I may not be able to write this column forever.

Joe Garrett, a Carrollton businessman, writes a weekly column for the Times-Georgian.

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Phone: (770) 537-1845

R. K. Redding Construction, Inc.
412 Sangamore Road
Bremen, GA 30110
Phone: (770) 537-1845
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