Posts Tagged ‘education’

San Diego Tackles Housing Affordability and Skills Gap for STEM Careers

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

Workforce development is critical to San Diego’s economy, so this topic was featured at the 33rd Annual San Diego County Economic Roundtable I attended on January 19, 2017. After the two presentations by the two economists covered in my last article, the next presenter was Tina Ngo Bartel, Director of Business Programs and Research for the San Diego Workforce Partnership, which has about a $40 million budget. She said, “My department does the research for new programs and then implements them. We did research on small business and found that 95% have fewer than 50 employees. We collaborate with the San Diego Employers Association to provide H.R. services for small businesses and have set up a free hotline for help on such topics as Workers Compensation, changes to labor law and wages, termination, employee discipline issues, etc.”

She described a new program they have to connect employers with job seekers instead of doing all day job fairs. They are doing Hiring Happy Hours at a local brewery where job seekers and employers can connect in a more informal, fun atmosphere. They are customized and targeted to specific industries, such as health care and manufacturing.

Next, she described their Connect2Careers program, which is “a summer employment program that addresses San Diego’s ongoing skills gap by providing meaningful work experiences that prepare young adults ages 16–24 for in-demand jobs. By aligning the career aspirations and educational backgrounds of young adults with businesses committed to developing our emerging workforce, C2C creates a positive experience for both employers and youth.”

Ms. Ngo Bartel said that they had released a report on Apprenticeship programs in November 2016. San Diego County has employers in a variety of industries that sponsor or participate in apprenticeship programs. According to the report, specialty trade contractors and local government provide the most apprenticeship opportunities. SDWP is working with the building industry on an apprenticeship career pathway in which there is no cost to the participants for the training and employment. At the end of the apprenticeship, there is guaranteed employment. She also said that the Urban Corps has a pre-apprenticeship program for youth without a high school diploma.

She stated that Able-Disabled Advocacy (A-DA) received a federal grant in November 2015 to develop apprenticeship programs for occupations that do not traditionally have registered apprenticeships in the region: project managers, computer support specialists–networking, and computer support specialists–cyber security (i.e., project management, ICT). The Able-disabled Academy offers an ICT program training in ICT skills.

She added, “San Diego has the first life science apprenticeship program in the nation created by Miramar College in partnership with Rx Research Services.” The press release of January 29, 2016, stated, “San Diego Miramar College will receive a $600,000 Innovative Apprentices for the Life Sciences Industry grant to grow the number of apprenticeships in nine areas: microbiology quality control technician; chemistry quality control technician; regulatory compliance associate; regulatory affairs specialist; clinical research coordinator; quality assurance associate/GXP auditor; clinical trial assistant; drug safety advocate; and clinical data coordinator. Miramar College, home of the Southern California Biotechnology Center, will be the lead education agency in partnership with Rx Research Services Inc., the apprenticeship sponsor.”

She concluded by saying that the SDWP will be doing an update on San Diego’s priority sectors of Advanced Manufacturing, Clean Energy, Health Care, Information and Communication Technologies, and Life Sciences and will release the report at their Workforce Conference in November 2017.

The lack of affordable housing in California’s metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego has reached crisis status. Historically, San Diego salaries have been substantially lower than the other two regions, so it has become even more critical. The median home price hit $507,500 in November 2016, up 11 percent from a year ago. Rents have been escalating due to the high demand and limited supply of affordable homes. Both of these factors are impacting employers being able to recruit skilled workers from other parts of the country and impacting our region’s ability to keep new college graduates in the region.

This is why the next speaker was Deborah Ruane, Executive V. P. and Chief Strategy Officer of the San Diego Housing Commission, whose mission is “To provide affordable, safe and quality homes for low-and moderate-income families and individuals in the City of San Diego and to provide opportunities to improve the quality of life for the families that the San Diego Housing Commission serves.” The SDHC website includes this statement as part of its mission: “Become a national model in initiating and implementing new, progressive ideas to address affordable housing needs across the country.”

Ms. Ruane said, “Our Board of Directors asked me to find out why it was so expensive to build affordable housing. It costs $300,000 per unit.” She said that one problem is that they have constraints from many of their funders for housing, such as must have solar, must be near a school, near public transit, look as nice as neighborhood, all of which add to the cost. Economist Lynn Reaser of Point Loma Nazarene College estimates the costs related to government are $40 billion. This impacts our regional GDP in the amount of $2.4 billion.

She explained, “We started with the McKinsey Global Institute report, ‘Tackling the Affordable Housing Challenge” and came up 60 factors that affect cost, most of which are related to local, state, and Federal government. We narrowed the list down to the top 11. The first eight are within San Diego’s purview to change. One is related to state government, and two to the Federal government.” The list is:

  1. Set annual production goals
  2. Incentivize more 80/20 development
  3. Defer development fees
  4. Reduce parking requirement
  5. Reduce commerce space requirements
  6. Unlock land and increase ground leases
  7. Approve community plans with Master Environmental Impact Report
  8. Support California Environmental Quality Act reform
  9. Increase state and Federal resources
  10. Align state oversight
  11. Increase State and Federal resources

She said that McKinsey was so impressed with the work they were doing that they issued a subsequent report in October 2016 on “Closing California’s Housing Gap,” which “provides a tool kit for fixing a chronic housing shortage in the world’s sixth biggest economy.”

She concluded saying, “If we can make these changes, the City could reduce the costs of market rate housing by $54 million and by $23 million for affordable housing. We have made movement on nine of the issues, and we will issue a year-end report next month.”

The next speaker was Gina Campion-Cain, CEO of American National Investments. Her presentation was focused on the commercial real estate market. The most interesting points of her presentation with regard to my focus on manufacturing is that corporate campuses are being developed with rich amenities for employees, such as fitness centers, restaurants, coffee stops, and “grab and go” marketplaces. She also touched on the changes in the design of open office floor plans instead of cubicles to facilitate more collaboration among workers.

The last speaker was Matt Doyle, Ed.D, Assistant Superintendent of the Vista Unified School District who spoke on “Innovation in Education – Addressing Student Engagement and Lifelong Success.” Dr. Doyle said the Vista school district has 22,000 students of which 10% are homeless, some since kindergarten, who are now getting “full-ride” scholarships. (Vista is located about 30 miles northeast of the City of San Diego.)

Highlighting the most important points of his presentation, he stated, “The biggest education issue is student engagement. In our school district, student engagement drops from 76% in elementary school down to 44% in high school. When I started four years ago, I had conversations with about 2,000 students. I took all of the words students had to say about school and put them in a program called ‘Wordle’ and the one that came up was ‘irrelevant.’ It is a similar trend around the country.”

He stated, “To resolve the engagement issue, we need to re-imagine education and develop work-ready talent using a Strengths-based Education Model. It’s not about preparing for college, but more about preparing students for careers. We are using tools used by industry and work with business partners of the Vista Innovation Center. We use technology as an infrastructure and are one-to-one in devices for students.”

He explained, “The goal is to be a self-regulated learner. We create a personal learning pathway for students and develop a student profile. We have developed a competency-based program so as soon as student demonstrates their knowledge in a subject, they can move on. What we are finding is many of our students are able to move into college classes as a junior or senior. The goal is to prepare the student or the pathway…not the path for the student.”

Continuing, he said, “Students are working alongside teachers. We are creating opportunities for students to learn. Our learning environment is different. A teacher is no longer at the front of a class with rows of student desks. At the center of student success is the concept of collaboration. It’s a brave new world. We are trying to move beyond the traditional mindset.” Dr. Doyle stated, “The results in our super school have been a  99% reduction in disciplinary incidents, a 50% reduction in absenteeism, 62% of increasing GPA by one percentage point in half a year, a 27% reduction in ‘Ds’ and a 33% reduction in ‘Fs’.”

He concluded saying, “We are reaching out to business and having meaningful conversations about essential skills. Clean energy is one of the priority sectors in north San Diego County along with advanced manufacturing. This is part of a project called the Talent Cities Solution to narrow the talent gap and feed the talent pipeline. We are working with Solatube in the clean technology field, and middle school students are having conversations about what skills are needed in that industry. We are trying to ‘marry’ companies with students so they students can be employable when they finish their education. We want to help companies “on-board” students. We are creating learners that are flexible and nimble because that is what industry needs.”

Public/private collaborations that incorporate new ideas and innovative  programs for solving the housing affordability crisis, solving the skills gap in workforce development, and educating the next generation of youth for STEM careers make San Diego a role model for other regions.

 

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

In February 2015, the Brookings Institute released the report, “America’s Advanced Industries:  What they are, where they are, and why they matter.” The authors of the report identified 50 industries that constitute the advanced industries sector, of which 35 are related to manufacturing, 12 to services, and three to energy. The report states, “As of 2013, the nation’s 50 advanced industries…employed 12.3 million U.S. workers. That amounts to about 9 percent of total U.S. employment. And yet, even with this modest employment base, U.S. advanced industries produce $2.7 trillion in value added annually—17 percent of all U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).”

Another benefit of these advanced industries is: “In 2013, the average advanced industries worker earned $90,000 in total compensation, nearly twice as much as the average worker outside of the sector. Over time, absolute earnings in advanced industries grew by 63 percent from 1975 to 2013, after adjusting for inflation.”

Number two of the report’s recommendations for our nation’s private and public sector was:  “Recharge the skills pipeline.” While everyone agrees that filling the pipeline at an early age is essential to increasing the numbers, achieving this goal has been frustrating.

A number of organizations have been working to fill the skills pipeline by developing the next generation of manufacturing workers. For many years, the SME Education Foundation has been committed to advancing the manufacturing industry and stimulating the interest of youth in STEM education and manufacturing careers. “The Foundation invests in students through a broad array of scholarship programs and makes a direct impact on manufacturing education through their Partnership Response in Manufacturing Education (PRIME®) program. PRIME provides high school students with opportunities to pursue rewarding careers as engineers and technologists; this includes vocations involving mechatronics, welding, CNC programming, robotics, and much more.”

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) “Dream It. Do ItTM” program has helped to expose our youth to the modern manufacturing environment and change the image of manufacturing to one that is “cool” and full of exciting career opportunities.

These newer programs build on the work of the non-profit organization, Project Lead The Way®, which has been working since 1997 to promote STEM curriculum for middle and high school students during the school year, along with their Gateway Academy, which is a one- or two-week day camp for 6th – 8th graders that includes team-building exercises, individual and team projects, and utilizes the latest technology to solve problems.

However, none of the above programs are geared specifically to girls, and it is an even bigger challenge to attract girls and young women to technical careers. Studies have shown that when role models and mentors are provided to girls, they are more likely to follow a similar career path.

Two years ago, I wrote an article about the PLAYBOOK for Teens, created by Cari Lyn Vinci and Carleen MacKay, which is available in print and digital format at Amazon. In the PLAYBOOK, girls can meet fascinating women in STE@M (the “@” stands for “art”) and follow the “plays” of successful young women to help them create their own “Dream Career.” At the end of each story, the PLAYBOOK role models share heart-felt advice for girls to apply to their career path. Then, questions are asked of the reader to help them take the first step to writing their own PLAYBOOK. The PLAYBOOK is dedicated to the smart, talented teenage girls who will become the future business owners and leaders in STE@M industries. The PLAYBOOK can be used as a tool for organization and corporate partners to solve their future talent pool problems.

I recently reconnected with Ms. Vinci and interviewed her about why she created the PLAYBOOK for Teens and what has happened since 2014.

Why did you create the PLAYBOOK?

“When I was a teenager, I never dreamed that I would do some of the work I have done and that I would be able to be successful in several different careers. A common thread in my previous careers was that I spent more than 20 years hiring and writing training programs to help employees reach their goals. My previous business was helping adults figure out their next career, and if they wanted to be a business owner, helping them buy a franchise. This led me to wanting to help students understand that what they study in school and the education they get after high school will shape their choices as adults…in careers and lifestyle. Before I sold my last business, I realized that I wanted to focus on this goal next and collaborated with Carleen McKay to write the PLAYBOOK for Teens. We have packages available to help corporations recruit talent and market their brand. After I sold my business in 2015, I began working full time to achieve my goal.

What did you hope to accomplish?

“I wanted to help connect the dots for kids, so they could make the right choices on what to study to prepare for a career that matched their interests and talents and would provide them the opportunity to live the lifestyle they wanted to live.”

What was your original plan for the PLAYBOOK?

“I wanted to inspire and highlight that there are many paths to success and that going to college for the traditional four years is not the only choice. I wanted to show students that people who look like them are happy and successful in careers and doing wonderful things to make the world a better place.”

Why STE@M instead of STEM?

Ms. Vinci said, “The “@” in STE@M represents the addition of art to the other disciplines, as studies show art training is relevant in STEM subjects.” She emailed me a link to her YouTube video, in which she said that “art and making things are closely related.” She added, “One of my ancestors was Leonardo DaVinci, and he was an artist, sculptor, scientist, and inventor, who used technology, engineering, and mathematics.”

Why did you focus on girls?

“We did extensive research before developing the STE@M™ Mentoring Program. Our discussions with middle school girls revealed there are several roadblocks that start to show up in Middle School. Students told us:

  • STEM careers are only for boys
  • STEM subjects are too hard. My teacher says I only need “fill in the blank class” to graduate.
  • There are no girls in the science club
  • I don’t want to be viewed as the “smart one”
  • My friends aren’t interested in STEM
  • My parents don’t talk to me about or can’t afford an education for me beyond high school

Our PLAYBOOK for Teens…STE@M Mentoring Program helps girls catapult those roadblocks by discussing the elephant in the room and helping girls see the truth and the possibilities. The 8th grade girls tell us these conversations are more open and beneficial in a “girls only” environment.

By seeing the necessary building blocks and seeing women who look like them that are happy and successful in STE@M careers, students understand what is possible for them. And, most important, students form a “techie tribe” of support to keep them motivated going forward.

When the program is delivered in 8th grade, students have the opportunity to take appropriate courses in high school based on their “PLAYBOOK for Success” which includes their education goals after high school of community college, a four-year college, military or other education option.

The mentoring program is a way to set the stories in motion by bringing more young women into the lucrative STEM arena. Teens explore STE@M careers, gain insights from the role model stories, journal and research educational options.”

How has your plan evolved in the past two years?

We launched the PLAYBOOK at the Sacramento State and the AT&T non-profit group, Women of AT&T, Expanding Your Horizons event in Sacramento in October 2014 with books for 400 girls. One of the role models in the PLAYBOOK was the Keynote Speaker. Then, I participated on panels for WITI and the Global Women’s Entrepreneur Conference and gave presentations at the AeroSpace Museum for students and JSPAC for California educators. We had a team at the first ever Start Up Weekend for Women in Sacramento. I completed the Entrepreneur Showcase Accelerator program and graduated by pitching to a room full of investors, (think Shark Tank with nice people). The PLAYBOOK for Teens was written up in Huffington Post and featured on News 10.

In February 2015, we got an order for 100 books from the Livermore Expanding Your Horizons event and an order for 200 books from Diablo College. The organizers bought PLAYBOOKs for the parents and I did a presentation for the parents to be able to help their daughters’ research STEM careers using the PLAYBOOK.

When groups of students experience the PLAYBOOK together (with a mentor, teacher or parent), there is energy, commitment and excitement. We now have PLAYBOOK guides for 1-12 Mastermind sessions. The Train the Trainer curriculum is eight sessions, and we have a modified version for parents. Teen Mastermind Members share ideas, research and build confidence as they make decisions and take action towards their goals. Teens discover important success skills for life and career through the Mastermind—while they build a “professional network” of other students who have an interest in STE@M.

We developed an APP to compliment the PLAYBOOK for The Women of AT & T. We have packages available to help corporations recruit talent and market their brand.” Starting with The Women of AT&T at their “Expanding Your Horizon” event and the American Association of University Women’s (AAUW) “Tech Trek” event, educators and non-profits have asked to use the PLAYBOOK in a group environment. Educators wanted to use the information in the classroom, so I wrote the PLAYBOOK for Teens — STE@M™ Mentoring Program.

The Yolo County office of Education hosted the first PLAYBOOK Pilot that started in December 2015 and ran through March 2016 at Lee Middle School in Woodland. After a presentation about the pilot, teachers were asked to recommend 15 girls who have an interest in STE@M and who they thought would benefit from participating in the pilot. We received 54 recommendations within 24 hours, the teachers and counselors and counselors narrowed the number down to 14 participants.

I was very honored to receive the 2016 Yolo County School Board Association’s Yolo County Excellence in Education Award on May 2nd for the PLAYBOOK for Teens STE@M™ Mentoring Program, Our program encourages girls to explore the possibilities of a career in science, technology, engineering and math.”

What is your current goal for the PLAYBOOK?

“”We are working with the Community College Chancellors office and County Offices of Education to conduct “Train the Trainer” programs for teachers/counselors/parents so that educators can bring the  PLAYBOOK for Teens — STE@M™ Mentoring Program to Middle School students throughout California. Our next steps include writing a PLAYBOOK for boys and girls and collaborating with other education content providers to extend the program into High School. The Director of Careers at the County Office of Education in Yolo County would like the PLAYBOOK Program in all 11 middle schools.”

I think the comments that Michael Gangitano, counselor and career exploration teacher at Lee Middle School in Woodland, gave at the awards ceremony provides the best opinion of the importance of this program. After he received an award for bringing the innovative program to his campus, he said, “Having worked with middle and high school students for the past 35 years, I am constantly on the lookout for instructional tools that help young people see and plan for their future. PLAYBOOK for Teens is one of those resources that only comes around once in a great while that proves to be a rare gem.

The STE@M™ Mentoring Program arrives in an era when women are increasingly prominent in medicine, law, and business, but still lag behind men in STEM career choices. The program aims to disrupt that trend by providing a mentoring program in schools, in after school programs, at youth groups or at home.”

I was pleased to hear from Ms. Vinci that a modified version of the program is now available by webinar for parents and youth leaders and that invitations are being sent out this week to the Greater Sacramento Area Middle School educators and counselors to attend a Professional Development Training on the PLAYBOOK for Teens — STE@M™ Mentoring Program to be held August 10 or September 2, 2016. She said that Middle School educators and counselors are eligible for a complimentary registration and $250 stipend to attend.

In conclusion, I can’t do better than echo the final comments of Mr. Gangitano, “…let’s touch the lives of middle- and high-school aged girls by providing an inspirational life plan that knows no boundaries. Your students, daughters, their friends and our future deserve no less.”

Is There Really Free Career Technical Training?

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Yes, there is, at least in California. I was recently given a tour of the San Diego Continuing Education headquarters facility by Dean Jane Signaigo-Cox and Vice President Brian Ellison. Continuing Education is the new name for what we used to call Adult Education where you could go back to school to get your high school diploma or take enrichment classes in art, cooking, foreign languages, sewing, etc.

While these types of classes are still being offered to adults over the age of 18, it is now possible to get technical job training and even certification in a variety of careers, such as automotive, computers, electronics, graphics, upholstery, pipe fitting, and welding. Unbelievably, these classes are free in California.

In 2006, then Governor Schwarzenegger identified workforce skills development, referred to as Career Technical Education (CTE), as a state priority. The passage of an education bond provided $500 million for CTE initially, and subsequent budgets have continued to fund the program. The plan was approved by the California State Board of Education on March 12, 2008 and approved by the U.S. Department of Education on July 1. CTE is delivered primarily through K-12 schools, adult-education programs, and community-college programs. CTE programs are closely linked with those of workforce and economic development agencies and industry and rely on the participation of community-based organizations. The programs are as follows:

California K-12/Adult Programs

  • Elementary school awareness and middle school introductory CTE programs.
  • High school CTE, offered through 1,165 high schools in single courses, in course sequences or through over 300 integrated “learning communities.”
  • Career pathways and programs through 74 regional occupational centers and programs.
  • Adult education offered through 361 adult schools and more than 1,000 sites.
  • Apprenticeship offered through more than 200 apprenticeship program and adult schools

The Continuing Education Center I visited is under the jurisdiction of the San Diego Community College District, but all of the California Community Colleges throughout the county and state offer the following programs. 

  • Occupational programs at 109 colleges, leading to certificates, associate degrees, and transfers to four-year universities.
  • Noncredit instruction for short-term CTE programs offered by 58 colleges.
  • More than 160 apprenticeship programs at 39 colleges.
  • Middle College High Schools (13) and Early College High Schools (19).
  • Tech Prep programs delivered through 80 Tech Prep consortia, comprising 109 colleges and their feeder high schools.
  • Contract education provided to organizations for their employees.

San Diego’s Continuing Education program has been making history since 1914, when it started providing job training for returning military veterans from WWI. Year after year, more than 74,000 students are served annually by the seven Continuing Education campuses and many offsite community locations throughout the city of San Diego.In 2013, more than 3,600 students received Certificates of Completion for programs through San Diego Continuing Education (accreditation through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the highest level of accreditation a California school or college can receive.)

According to Jane Signaigo-Cox, who oversees many of these career technical programs, “more than 1800 of the certificates awarded were for these Career Technical Education job training programs. Since students spend an average of 65 to 70 percent of course time using hands on tools and technology to learn relevant skills for today’s jobs, they are prepared for an entry level position in their field after completing these courses.”

The Little Hoover commission, a non-partisan legislative agency, named San Diego Continuing Education as a top model program for efficiency and effectiveness in California. The Commission produced an in-depth, well-documented report, “Serving Students, Serving California:  Updating the California Community Colleges to Meet Evolving Demands.” The report was presented to the California governor and legislature and includes several recommendations that suggest how programs could and should function in today’s world.

San Diego’s Continuing Education is the largest adult educational institute of its kind in the nation and has been invited to join 45 academic institutions in the Global Corporate College Network. The Global Corporate College was founded by leaders of entrepreneurial colleges and universities and leverages the best learning industry practices with the resources of accredited academic institutions.  The organization is committed to helping employers realize the full potential of their workforce by providing training opportunities for corporations and organizations throughout the U. S. and Europe and currently services 17 industry sectors. In San Diego, this type contract education is provided through the Employee Training Institute, which offers online training, classroom training, and on-the-job-site training for a fee. Hundreds of customized training options are available to San Diego businesses. Contact the Director of ETI at 619-388-1282 to learn more.

Since I am aware of the shortage of skilled workers in the manufacturing sector, I was particularly interested in the type of career technical training available to address this need. My tour of the Educational Cultural Complex campus included the pipe fitting and welding training department. I was amazed at the number of Miller Electric welding stations they had to teach students in both MIG and TIG welding techniques. They even had one of the newer Lincoln Electric welding simulators that I got to try out at the FABTECH show in Las Vegas in 2012. Because of budget cuts for staff, there is currently only one daytime welding class of about 25 students and one evening class this fall.

After certification, entry-level pipe fitters can earn $17/hour and welders can earn $19/hour, which is a very good entry-level wage in San Diego. Journeymen welders can make double this wage. These are no easy programs:  both require 1,200 hours of training, completed in 48 to 52 weeks. The Continuing Education program provides Career Development Services (CDS) that helps students with resume preparation, interview tips, and specific information about companies that are looking for certain skills.  Regular job fairs are hosted at various campuses. Students also have the opportunity to meet with a career counselor who can help with identifying and setting goals that will keep students on the right track toward employment.

Most of the career technical training requiring specific equipment is only available at the Educational Cultural Complex, but electronic technician training is only provided at the mid-city campus. Training for machinists is only available at the San Diego City College campus as a for-credit college class.

Even after losing more than a half million manufacturing jobs since 2008, “California is by far the number one state for manufacturing jobs, firms and output – accounting for 11.7 percent of the total output, and employing 9 percent of the workforce. CA manufacturing generates $229.9 billion, more than any other state.”

Manufacturing’s tarnished image has caused Gen X and Millennials to not even think of manufacturing as a career. As Sr. Editor, Patricia Panchak of Industry Week, wrote in her November 7th article, “Manufacturer’s Agenda: Toward a New Skilled Workforce Shortage Solution,”, “too many people viewed manufacturing jobs as low-paying, “dumb, dirty, dangerous and disappearing.”

This is certainly not true in San Diego and other parts of California. The majority of manufacturing plants in California are clean and high-tech compared to the heavy industry of the mid-west and so-called “Rust Belt.” Manufacturing jobs provide the opportunity to make higher wages according to many past Industry Week articles that have highlighted“statistics showing that manufacturing jobs on average pay higher salaries than jobs in other sectors.”

If you are in a low-paying or dead-end job, you may want to consider getting the technical training you need to obtain a higher paying job in manufacturing through your local community college or continuing education program.

If you are a company owner or member of the management team of a manufacturing company, you may want to contact your local community college or continuing education center to provide job offers to graduates of their certification programs or get your existing employees trained in new skills.

If you don’t live in California, then try a search using “career technical training” in your state to see what you can find. It may change your life or help you find the skilled workers your company needs.

 

 

 

 

Innovative Programs Provide Career and Technical Education in High Schools

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

According to a 2012 Pew Research Center analysis of census data, for the first time, a third of American 25- to 29-year-olds have earned at least a bachelor’s degree. That share has been slowly edging up from fewer than one-fifth of young adults in the early 1970s to 33 percent this year. What happens to the other two-thirds of young adults? In Germany, they typically hold an occupational certification by the age of 20, but in the United States, non-college grads are often left without marketable skills or qualifications.

In his State of the Union address, President Obama said, “Tonight, I’m announcing a new challenge to redesign America’s high schools so they better equip graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy. And we’ll reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers, and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering and math — the skills today’s employers are looking for to fill the jobs that are there right now and will be there in the future.”

There are already a number of innovative high schools across the country that are pioneering a model for career and technical education that has little to do with the narrow vocational classes of yesteryear, like wood shop and auto shop. Instead, at Linked Learning schools in California, at the MET schools in Rhode Island, and at Tech Valley High outside Albany, high school students complete internships in real workplaces, exploring fields as diverse as baking, engineering, and biotechnology. Students have the opportunity to check out more than one profession so they can see how adults use their education in the workplace. This helps students stay motivated to earn a degree and introduces them to the behaviors and practices specific to the working world.

California is one of the states that put vocational training back into the curriculum at high schools and community colleges. During his terms as California’s governor from 2003-2010, Arnold Schwarzenegger identified workforce skills, referred to as Career Technical Education (CTE), as a priority for California. The State plan specifies learning goals in 58 career pathways organized around 15 industry sectors. The CTE is delivered primarily through K-12/adult education programs and community college programs and includes the following:

K-12/Adult Programs:

  • Elementary school awareness and middle school introductory CTE programs
  • High school CTE, offered through 1,165 high schools in single courses, in course sequences or through over 300 integrated “learning communities”
  • ROCPs offering career pathways and programs through 74 ROCPs
  • Adult education offered through 361 adult schools and over 1,000 sites
  • Apprenticeship offered through over 200 apprenticeship program and adult schools

Community College

  • Occupational programs offered at all 109 colleges, leading to certificates, associate degrees, and transfer to four-year universities
  • Noncredit instruction for short-term CTE programs offered by 58 colleges
  • Apprenticeship offering over 160 apprenticeship programs at 39 colleges
  • Middle College High Schools (13) and Early College High Schools (19)
  • Tech Prep programs delivered through 80 Tech Prep “consortia,” comprising 109 colleges and their feeder high schools

As a result, California developed “Linked Learning,” which is an approach that is transforming education for California students by integrating rigorous academics with career-based learning and real world workplace experiences. Linked Learning ignites high school students’ passions by creating meaningful learning experiences through career-oriented pathways in fields such as engineering, health care, performing arts, law, and more.

The Linked Learning pathway is defined as:  A multiyear, comprehensive high school program of integrated academic and career technical study that is organized around a broad theme, interest area, or industry sector. Pathways connect learning with students’ interests and career aspirations, preparing them for the full range of post-graduation options including two- and four-year colleges and universities, apprenticeships, formal employment training, and military service.

In 2012, sixty three districts and county offices of education in California committed to making Linked Learning a district-wide improvement strategy and participate in the state Linked Learning Pilot Program, authorized by Assembly Bill 790. The scale of the state Linked Learning Pilot Program will give many more students in more regions around the state access to Linked Learning. When the pilot is fully implemented, Linked Learning will be available to more than one third of the state’s high school students – that’s approximately 700,000 students.

Linked Learning can be implemented through various models such as the California Linked Learning District initiative, which includes nine districts that have already implemented the Linked Learning approach:

  • Antioch USD
  • Long Beach USD
  • Los Angeles USD, Local District 4
  • Montebello USD
  • Oakland USD
  • Pasadena USD
  • Porterville USD
  • Sacramento City USD
  • West Contra Costa USD

Additional models include California Partnership Academies, career academies, National Academy Foundation academies, charter schools, and small-themed schools to name just a few. Today in California, 500 California Partnership Academies are organized around one of the state’s California’s 15 major industry sectors, and another approximately 300 career academies are in operation. Regional Occupational Centers and Programs (ROCPs) play an important part in many of these academies. In many other high schools, ROCPs are experimenting with innovative approaches to integrate academic and technical education.

While my hometown of San Diego hasn’t implemented the Linked Learning approach, Clairemont High School has an Academy of Business & Technology (AOBT), which is a “school within a school” that focuses on business, computer, and communication skills. The three-year program provides college-prep core classes and business career-technical electives to provide students the technological, financial, and communicative skills necessary to succeed in a college and career environment.

The academy program is committed to providing students with an array of unique educational activities and opportunities that are not typically incorporated into general education courses such as: • Internships in the business field • Mentorships with community partners • Entrepreneurship training • Instruction in finance and economics • Online business simulations • Field trips to businesses and colleges • Guest speakers on various careers • Job interview & resume guidance • Computer skills in Microsoft applications • Public speaking preparation  • Project-based group assignment • Team-building and leadership exercises • Problem-based learning projects • Group simulations.

On a nationwide basis, the non-profit organization Project Lead The Way® (PLTW) has been working since 1997 to promote pre-engineering courses for middle and high school students. PLTW forms partnerships with public schools, higher education institutions, and the private sector to increase the quantity and quality of engineers and engineering technologists graduating from our educational system. The PLTW curriculum was first introduced to 12 New York State high schools in the 1997-98 school years. A year later, PLTW field-tested its four unit Middle School Program in three middle schools. Today, there are over 400,000 students enrolled in programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

PLTW has developed innovative and mutually beneficial partnerships with more than 100 prestigious colleges and universities, called University Affiliates, to facilitate the delivery of the PLTW programs. They provide and coordinate activities such as professional development, college-level recognition, program quality initiatives, and statewide/regional support and communication.

PLTW has nearly 100 leading corporate sponsors, including 3M, BAE Systems, Boeing, Caterpillar, Chevron, Intel, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Qualcomm, Rockwell Automation, Solar Turbines, and Sprint. Some of non-profit sponsors are the Kauffman Foundation and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation. Corporations and philanthropic organizations generously provide PLTW with:

  • capital resources which it allocates to schools so that they may deliver leading-edge STEM curriculum, technology, materials and equipment to students;
  • access to experienced and talented employees who assist teachers in PLTW classrooms.

Another PLTW program sponsored by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation and other organizations is the Gateway Academy, a one- or two-week day camp for 6th – 8th graders that is a project based, hands-on curriculum designed by PLTW to introduce middle school students to the fundamentals of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning. The camp typically includes team-building exercises, individual and team projects, and utilizes the latest technology to solve problems. The camp is hosted by high schools or middle schools offering PLTW programs, such as Gateway To Technology (GTT) or Pathway To Engineering (PTE).

Campers work together in a fun, exciting environment using leading-edge technologies to sample such disciplines as robotics, aeronautics and eco-design. They brainstorm ideas, solve problems and build bridges, race cars and other working models.

Participation in a Gateway Academy prepares students for the middle school Gateway to Technology pre-engineering curriculum. The PLTW Middle School program is called Gateway To Technology, consisting of nine-week, stand-alone units, which can be implemented in grades six through eight, as determined by each school. The curriculum exposes students to a broad overview of the field of technology. The units are:

•           Design and Modeling

•           The Magic of Electrons

•           The Science of Technology

•           Automation and Robotics

•           Flight and Space

If all 50 states would establish career technical education in their high schools based on the successful PLTW curriculum, we could eliminate the skills shortage of manufacturing workers within the next five to six years and prepare the next generation of manufacturing and biotech workers to ensure that we have enough skilled workers for manufacturers to employ as more and more companies return manufacturing to America from outsourcing offshore and replace the “baby boomers” as they retire over the next 20 years.