With the recent rash of drug arrests in the county as the backdrop, let’s not forget, if given a chance, most people want the opportunity of being able to better themselves through their own hard work.
We can preach the value and relevance of education all day and then some, but if our young people are not hired to work, it becomes nearly impossible for them to make ends meet. As a community, we urge our parents and schools to encourage their sons and daughters to have big dreams, to aspire to go to college, get a good job and make the most of their potential.
With that said, I think the missing part of the puzzle remains the lack of job-training and employment opportunities in Sampson County. If we believe in fairness, we will be investing in our young people through the use of internships, job-training and other services to assist with employment. This will help to remove barriers to productive citizenship. There is nothing more important than landing a job after high school or college which will help young people stay on the right path.
It is no exaggeration to say that finding that job after high school or college is a defining moment in the lives of young people, for many know the value of steady employment, which has been shown to be a chief factor in reducing crime in a community. If we are to continue becoming a more perfect place to live, we must believe and demonstrate that everyone deserves a fair chance, and we need to provide assistance for those who are actively seeking ways to improve their lives.
As a community, we have a moral obligation to commit to equality of opportunity for all, putting in place policies and practices that help the underserved and underemployed. What better way to empower our young people to make better choices than to allow them to become self-supporting citizens. As more young people become inspired to take ownership of their future, the whole society is much better off.
As a community, we seem to be making many strides with our schools in preparing graduates well enough for success after high school and for a lifetime of learning. To be sure, our young people of all stripes should not be allowed to become “disconnected youth” for that would be a devastating loss to each one personally and a severe loss to the community’s economic prosperity.
Now, that missing piece of the puzzle can be put in place by greater coordination and collaboration between business and industry in Sampson County. By expanding the network of employers and other interested stakeholders, that will create more employment partners. And with more employment partners, this will increase the likelihood of having more businesses willing to invest in our young people.
To be sure, through greater employment options, this will open more pathways to opportunity, helping more young people thrive.
Larry Sutton is a former Clinton High School history teacher.