The launch of a new work-based program aimed at inroducing more students to careers. Edsource December 14, 2014 by Michelle Maitre
Student work program demystifies careers
Business involvement in schools is seen as a key part of efforts to better prepare students for college and careers, a main goal of the Common Core State Standards in math and English. Yet education officials say effective partnerships are often lacking. “Everywhere I go, I talk to employers saying we can’t find the skilled workforce we need, and I talk to young people in schools saying we want opportunities and we can’t find them,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in October at a roundtable discussion in San Francisco on the importance of engaging business in schools. “Somehow the matchmaking, the connection (between business and education) doesn’t happen in too many places.”
Students in the program participate in mock interviews and résumé-building exercises, learn about professional behavior, go on company tours and have the chance to be mentored by Verizon employees. The program will culminate in paid summer internships for many of the students in the academy, offering important real-world experience that a growing number of educators say is crucial to keep students engaged in their studies and better prepare them for college and the workplace.
The program is a partnership between Verizon and the National Academy Foundation, a national nonprofit organization based in New York that works with and promotes academic and career academies and engineering academyies, officially called Engineering and Designing a Green Environment, or EDGE, is a NAF academy, where students receive academic instruction tailored around career themes. Internships, job shadowing and other exposure to the work world are important parts of the curriculum.
The EDGE Academy/Verizon Work-Based Learning Program is modeled after a similar one launched last year at NAF academy, Manhattan Bridges High School in New York. The monthly visits were a hit with students, said Jayne Mayer, director of employee engagement for the Verizon Foundation.
The partnerships are also beneficial for businesses, who say the early introduction to careers pays off in training a future workforce. “There’s a business side to creating a talent pipeline,” Mayer said. “But if we look at it more through a philanthropic lens, there’s a gap in this country with not enough students prepared or interested in STEM careers,” she added, using the acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. “By getting to students early, we’re trying to provide them some perspective and hopefully produce more STEM folks.”
Verizon is a participant in the National Academy Foundation’s recently launched NAFTrack Certified Hiring program. Participating businesses agree to give special hiring consideration to students who graduate from certified NAF academies. The perks could include college internship opportunities, the potential for higher starting salaries and guaranteed interviews, among other advantages.
Business partnerships are an important part of the NAF model, where “hundreds if not thousands of other business partners” work with academies on activities like curriculum review and work-based learning activities, said James Cole, work-based learning manager for the National Academy Foundation. The business experience introduces students to career possibilities, but also helps demystify the work world to help students understand how what they’re learning in school relates to what they may do in the future.
Friday, December 19, 2014