“We’re working to redesign high schools and partner them with colleges and employers that offer the real-world education and hands-on training that can lead directly to a job and career.”
In his January 20th State of the Union Address, President Obama described work that Jobs for the Future, in partnership with the Harvard Graduate School of Education, has been deeply involved in for over two and a half years. The Pathways to Prosperity Network is a collaboration of regions and states focused on ensuring that many more young people complete high school and attain postsecondary credentials with currency in the labor market. These outcomes are achieved by developing career pathways that span grades 9-14 and bridge the silos of high school, postsecondary education, and the workplace. These pathways provide work-based learning opportunities that lead to valuable postsecondary credentials and launch young people into initial careers, while leaving open the prospect of further education.
More and more states are coming to see this strategy as an effective solution to the problems they are facing. As part of his State of the State Address on January 22nd, Delaware Governor Jack Markell announced that Pathways to Prosperity would be a key part of the state’s strategy to fulfill its new college completion goal, the Delaware Promise. The Delaware Promise is that, by 2025, 65 percent of Delaware’s workforce will earn a college degree or professional certificate, and everyone will earn at least a high school diploma.
Gov. Markell described the specifics of how Pathways to Prosperity will operate within the state: The initiative will “establish partnerships with Delaware employers, universities, and our K-12 system to prepare students for a bright future in key industries. High school students will take hundreds of hours of specialized instruction and hands-on training. They will graduate with industry-recognized certificates and college credits.”
Pathways to Prosperity focuses on high-demand sectors, like information technology, health care, and advanced manufacturing, to ensure the best career outcomes for students. In fall 2015, Delaware will launch pathways statewide for the IT and hospitality industries. As Gov. Markell said, “We will also expand to southern Delaware the manufacturing pathway we started last year with Colonial and New Castle County Vo-tech School Districts. Those manufacturing students are already making great progress and will get paid internships this summer at companies like Agilent Technologies, PPG, Kuehne and Siemens. The following year, we will expand the network to include two more of our fastest growing industries—financial services and health care.”
Amy Loyd, executive director of the Pathways to Prosperity Network, noted that the work in Delaware illustrates the importance of working across sectors: “Delaware assembled an incredibly strong state-level team that includes the Governor’s Office, the Department of Education, the Department of Labor, the Delaware Workforce Investment Board, the Delaware Economic Development Office, Delaware Technical Community College, the Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, the Rodel Foundation, and Capital One. This representation from across sectors—including industry and secondary and postsecondary education—and the enthusiasm and commitment of the leadership team have been key to Delaware’s rapid progress in developing pathways since they joined our Network last June. We are excited about our collaboration with Delaware and look forward to the work ahead.”
Gov. Markell and Delaware’s Pathways to Prosperity leadership team have worked quickly to implement and invest in the vision that the Governor laid out in his address. At a February 12th Pathways to Prosperity kickoff event, the Governor announced that the Delaware Department of Education would make $1 million available over the next year to school districts that are implementing pathways. Districts will partner with employers and postsecondary institutions to ensure that students in pathways have opportunities to gain experience in workplaces and to earn postsecondary credentials. Mark Brainard, president of Delaware Technical Community College, said that the manufacturing pathway already in place “has demonstrated the power of partnering our business community and college with school districts to create a curriculum that engages students in learning skills most valued in the economy.”
At the kickoff event, Gov. Markell described how pathways programs would not only provide new opportunities to young people, but strengthen the state as a whole. “Today, we take an important step toward ensuring that Delaware will be one of those places where students of today and of generations to come will enter the workforce fully armed with the skills to compete for good jobs, develop new innovations, and make the most of their extraordinary talents.”
Photo courtesy Delaware Online - The News Journal video 2/12/15