Tech Ed helps students find their earning power
This article first appeared on GettingSmart.com, and was re-published here with permission.
It’s the first Monday of the month and at Career Path High (CPH) in Kaysville, UT, that means it’s Student Career Series day. This month’s career exploration finds the students visiting the Plumbing Program where, after receiving an overview of the program’s required coursework, training, job outlook, and potential earning power, students experience a hands-on demonstration by the department’s lead instructor. Today they learned that the average starting salary for a trained plumber ranges from $12.00 to $31.01/hr.
Career exploration at CPH is designed to be meaningful. The Career Series is just one of the many methods we employ to provide our students with the information they need to make the best decision about which career and technical program to pursue. The Series highlights the different Davis Applied Technology College (DATC) Programs through mini workshops that include hands-on activities. Students learn about the skills being taught in the program as well as potential career opportunities. Ninth and Tenth graders are strongly encouraged to attend to assist them with their future selection of a program. Eleventh and Twelfth graders are full-time college students enrolled in a program while simultaneously completing high school.
Our model is built on the premise that the high school experience can and should be so much more. One of our mantras is “Go to High School, Graduate with a Career!” Our goal is to empower students over their education and pathway. We do it through our flexible blended learning model. We do it through our partnership with a state-of-the-art CTE Institution of Higher Education. At CPH everything is focused on this outcome: Students receive their diploma and their career and technical certification in their chosen field of study upon graduation. Our partnership with the Davis Applied Technology College makes this possible. Our location in the heart of their campus makes it plausible.
We are a charter high school partnered with the Davis Applied Technology College, where there are 30 different career and technical programs for our students to choose from. All 30 are aligned to industry and existing opportunities. Many of the programs provide internships and on the job training. Certain trade skills are in such high demand that a job is nearly guaranteed if you complete the program successfully. During a previous Career Series visit to the medical programs students learned that graduates from the DATC in those programs are in high demand and industry positions can’t be filled as quickly as they arise. Students exiting high school with both their diploma and a certificate from the Applied Technology College are job ready and able to enter the workforce commanding a livable wage. This gives them a monumental advantage over their peers whether they choose to go directly into a career or on to pursue additional higher education.
For students like Ben, he considers Career Path High a once in a lifetime opportunity. Ben is a good student, but the high school experience alone is not enough for him. Ben likes to stay busy, constantly moving and absorbing in an environment that addresses the way he learns best. The flexibility of our blended model along with the hands-on skill building involved in the Composites Program serve him well, keeping him active and on his toes. When CPH students visited the Composites Program for their science cross-curricular project, Ben was tasked as their guide. He could barely contain his enthusiasm and wanted to share every bit of vast knowledge he has attained about the science behind building composite materials. Making his high school experience relevant to real-world application enriches his years spent in high school, but more importantly Ben understands what this Early College experience means to his future and his earning power at a very young age.
The Career Path High model is based on the commitment that every student will graduate with a high school diploma and a pathway to a career through technical certification and college. Our students come to us for a variety of different reasons. They have varying needs and unique learning styles. Our model of blended learning flex combined with Early College presents a wonderful recipe for success for all who want to partake.
Ian enrolled in CPH seeking a new opportunity. As an incoming senior he was on a path to leave high school before completion. He was deficit in credits and as a result struggled with mastering content in certain subject areas. His future was uncertain. For Ian, the decision to attend Career Path High empowered him with an opportunity to transform his path. Having an education option like CPH available to him literally changed the trajectory of his life. Our model was well equipped to help Ian with the personalized attention and individualized planning he needed to not only get back on track academically but to graduate with much more than just a diploma. What seemed insurmountable when he arrived became incentivized by the promise of a career and Ian went from being written off to Salutatorian of our inaugural graduating class. Ian holds a special place in my heart. It is the Ian’s of the world who inspire what I do at Career Path High.
Our community has exceptional resources, as many do. Which begs the question, why aren’t we better utilizing them to provide our students with legitimate college and career readiness opportunities and skills? We can no longer undervalue the years our students spend in high school. As new education models are emerging, early college career and technical education represents an important opportunity to the high school experience, one that allows students to pave their own pathway. This not only benefits our emerging young adults but also our communities and the employers seeking a skilled workforce. As our nation looks for example career readiness models, programs like Career Path High that offer relevant career certification and job training deserve a double take.
To talk with Robyn or discuss other issues around employability in more depth, Pearson is hosting a Ready for Work: Employability Summit at SXSWedu, March 9, 2016, from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. We would love to see you there. Or contribute to this conversation below or on Twitter at #SxSWedu.
About the Author
Robyn Bagley is the school director of Career Path High School. Follow Robyn on Twitter at @gallagherrobyn.