Backhoe digging a trench

With construction booming in our community, the demand for skilled workers createdan opportunity for Goochland County Public Schools (GCPS) to develop a program that met a need and opened doors for students.

The Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA) recently recognized the division’s efforts in their
annual Awards for Excellence in Workforce Readiness awards program. GCPS’s entry, Utility
and Heavy Equipment Operators: Building the Foundation for a Career, was one of only nine
programs throughout the Commonwealth to be honored by VSBA, earning second place in the Under 5,000 Students category.

“From our lab to our two-acre dig site, GCPS students learn the skills they need to go from our high school directly into well-paying jobs,” Bruce Watson, director of Career and Technical Education (CTE), said. “This would not be possible without the support, tools, equipment and opportunities we receive from our School Board and our business partners.”

To prepare GCPS graduates to be college and career ready, the division’s CTE courses merge
academic knowledge and technical skills in real-world applications. GCPS is one of only two school divisions in Virginia to offer Utility/Heavy Construction courses that provide students with both the knowledge and the hands-on skills needed to secure a job as a construction equipment operator.  Students learn about site grading and development, excavation, concrete structures, pipe laying, road building, and other topics. In a second course, students also study soil, learn to read blueprints, and have the opportunity to gain experience in operating bulldozers, backhoes, front-end loaders, excavators, and motor graders. Completion of these courses prepares students for the certification exam for medium/heavy truck technician or parts specialist.

The VSBA awards program was created by the organization’s Task Force on Workforce Readiness to highlight exemplary programs in Virginia’s public schools focused on preparing the state’s future workforce.