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Bridging the Gap Between Skills and Workforce Needs
In a 2017 survey of post-secondary readiness, only 31.6% of students who had earned a high school diploma in 2012 graduated from college after six years.
Therefore, a staggering two-thirds of our youth (from all socioeconomic backgrounds) have graduated from high school and have not obtained a college diploma. Factor in the statistic that only 10% of the college graduating students are from low-income households, and a crisis emerges.
In the past 20 years we have relied on supporting the growth of excellent public charter school systems to solve this crisis. These high performing charter schools have been able to increase the 30% college graduates to 50%, thus still producing a life-long and societal hole for half of our children as they become adults.
Is College the Only Path to Workplace Success?
The push over the past 20 years towards “college for all” has been a noble effort, given far too many students were not aware of their post-secondary options, nor were they prepared to be successful in these options. This work has created a debate over whether or not college is right for every student. To get past the noise of this debate and focus on the work, we agree that college is not right for every student; however, the skills (both technical and character) to go to college are right for every student. The mission of any school system should not be to choose between sending all its students to college or preparing all its students with a specific job skill; it should be to prepare all its students with the academic, career, and life skills they need to have the FREEDOM to make their own choice at age 18 (and at age 28, 38, 48, etc.) on their career path to become contributing, virtuous members of society.
Building Skills for Workforce Success
Tremendous efforts have been made in the past 20 years to incorporate college preparedness inside various school systems, but not an equal effort has been placed on Career Tech/Mid Skills curriculum and instruction. Whether this lack of focus is due to the debate of not wanting to appear on the wrong side of the social justice “college-for-all” effort, or simply because a solid Career Tech plan involves multiple partners working in a coordinated way, we believe it is time to answer the debate with a Both/And solution.
The education reform work of the past two decades has been invaluable to hold teachers, schools, and school systems more accountable for student achievement outcomes. The time has come for student achievement to evolve beyond passing tests or earning a diploma. And the time has come for students to be equipped with the ability to adapt to a constantly evolving economy. Having the skills and virtues to achieve prosperity is the ultimate reason why schools and school systems do their work. WorkTexas will help the next generation develop those skills and virtues to build a better tomorrow.
WorkTexas, a new 501c3 non-profit, initially will have one location for the Houston area at Gallery Furniture at 6006 North Freeway, with satellite campuses planned for the future. The target student population will be high school age and older, who are looking to learn the specific skills necessary to obtain a job, keep that job, and advance in their career. Students younger than 16 will have the opportunity to shadow various industry professions (to determine their interest), as well as focus on the academics needed to graduate from high school. Training will also be available to older individuals as well who do not need or want a high school degree.
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Help WorkTexas staff classes, and supply trade equipment and materials as we help our students become workforce ready.
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