On September 18, the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus in coordination with the Afterschool Alliance hosted a briefing: CTE and Afterschool – Youth Career Pathways Succeed with Partners. The briefing featured a moderator and four panelists from across the United States including:
The briefing came just a little over one month after a newly reauthorized CTE bill, HR 2353, passed into law. Presenters discussed how afterschool is exposing youth early and broadly to career opportunities and experiences, connecting them with caring adults and mentors, and supporting them as they experiment with hands on learning. In these programs, students develop essential 21st century employability skills like leadership, problem-solving, and communication and be provided the tools to discover their passions.
Moderator Zelda Waymer opened the panel discussing the connections between afterschool programs and the workforce, “the new CTE law recognizes that careers, and students themselves, are rapidly changing and we need flexible, rigorous, responsive opportunities and innovations that meet the needs of students and communities.” Waymer explained how her statewide afterschool network was partnering with Claflin University and other local partners to provide high school students real world laboratory experience and leadership training through a Biomedical/Biomaterials Research Summer Intern Training. Research shows, Waymer mentioned, that more than 70 percent of students in STEM afterschool programs reported increases in STEM knowledge and a positive change in their attitudes towards STEM careers.
Wyoming State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jillian Balow, told the audience she would be pleased to be known among state educational chiefs as the CTE and Afterschool Superintendent. She discussed the importance of decision making at the community level and noted the ability of the state chief create atmospheres and policies favorable to collaboration. In the Q&A period, Superintendent Balow spoke to the changing perceptions around career and technical education from the former reputation of vocation education as a means of tracking students. Wyoming is placing college, career, and military readiness on the same plane across the state and providing quality educational supports to help students reach the goal they choose.
Traci Jadlos explained that After-School All-Stars beyond her Cleveland programs, is a national organization operating in 13 states and 50 cities, serving 73,000 students. These programs focus on students as young as 5th grade and provide opportunities in academic assistance tied to the school day, social and emotional learning, and enrichment activities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Students also have Career Exploration opportunities such as Big City Builders, and culinary or product designs where they can explore different trades and work alongside real employees in in-demand industries in their area.
In North Dakota, afterschool programs at the 21st Century Community Learning Center Program directed by Lori Zahradka are working closely with local employers such as the U.S. Customs and Border Control. The program at the North Valley Career and Technology Center builds students’ exposure and experience to these local opportunities, by activities like teaching students to operate the drones used in Customs and Border work and establishing afterschool welding and automotive maintenance clubs that lead to local careers. One student Lori mentioned was, as a result of his experience, given paid work at the local welding center. At some point, his boss came in to the afterschool program to deliver his check, showing the other students the tangible rewards of their experiences. The North Valley program uses multiple funding sources including CTE, Community Learning Centers, and workforce dollars (WIOA) to provide students with quality programming. They also work with companies like Northrup Grumman to leverage funds, experts, and in-kind donations. And they work with community participants and partners who support students in leadership activities and programs such as “You’re Hired” in partnership with Higher education.
Amere Langley anchored the panel. As a senior in high school and active participant in programs with the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula, Amere spoke to the value of the club in building his confidence and leadership capabilities. He looks forward to being a business owner after he completes his college education. During the Q&A, Amere was asked what more programs need to be doing to provide quality experiences for youth. He responded that students now have an expertise in navigating technology and know how to use it to find information and to solve problems. He is looking for ways that the education space can tap into those skills and allow students to use them for the benefit to the community.
For some additional resources see:
Afterschool Alliance: Building Workforce Skills in Afterschool
AYPF’s Afterschool and Workforce Opportunities for Systems Level Alignment
Afterschool Works –Video
Advance CTE’s recent Issue Brief on Equity
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