NOLA public charter schools expanding college and career pathways for thousands of students

By Amanda McElfresh, Nola.com

This story is brought to you by Education Reform Now

More than ever, schools and organizations in New Orleans are forging stronger connections between students and long-term job opportunities.

The shift has occurred in recent years, beginning after Hurricane Katrina and only growing more robust since then. New Orleans public schools have undergone major changes and are now all part of a decentralized, all-public charter school system.

In this unique educational environment, organizations such as Collegiate Academies, the citywide YouthForce NOLA collaborative and others have had the flexibility to innovate, develop partnerships and expand pathways to careers in ways that most other school districts do not have the flexibility to do.

The result is more 2020 New Orleans high school graduates with industry-based credentials, paid work experience and refined real-world skills to help them navigate post-secondary education and the professional world.

Cate Swinburn, president and co-founder of YouthForce NOLA, said that about five years ago, educators began to notice that New Orleans students were making academic gains in the form of higher ACT scores, graduation rates and college-going rates.

But at the same time, data showed New Orleans had a disproportionate number of people ages 16-24 who were not working and not in school. There also were large numbers of students dropping out of college because of the high cost of secondary education, lack of academic and mental health supports and their college choice or major not being a good fit for them.

“We were faced with a real disconnect,” Swinburn said. “There were incredibly talented young people living in New Orleans, which had thousands of great-paying, advancement-potential jobs, and the young people would likely never be able to cross that bridge and land one of those great jobs. The YouthForce NOLA plan was created to build the bridges and systems so New Orleans graduates can be the most sought-after talent for high-wage, high-growth career pathways.”

Meanwhile, around the same time, Collegiate Academies realized they needed to adapt to meet their students’ needs. While they have maintained their college focus, they have continually developed responsive programming to support the needs of all of their students: from trauma-informed practices to enhanced co-curriculars, from English Language Learning supports to honors extension coursework, from AP classes to math and reading interventions.

Collegiate engaged alumni to learn from their experiences to enhance their coursework to develop classes around social justice, and created the college success class, which is focused on financial literacy, mental health, nutrition and advocating for academic support.

“Students are building academic skills while getting to explore different opportunities that speak to their passion and purpose,” said Lauren Katz, Collegiate Academies’ senior director of college success. “We also offer extensive holistic support, mental health services and full health clinics. All of that was being really responsive to the students in front of us and seeing what the needs were.”

Five years after its inception, Swinburn said the YouthForce NOLA collaborative is on track to meet or exceed all of its goals for the class of 2020. Those goals include:

  • At least 20 percent of New Orleans’ 2020 graduates will have an industry-based credential in addition to a high school diploma
  • At least 10 percent of the 2020 class will graduate with meaningful, paid work experience, plus a diploma
  • An increasing number of high school graduates will have developed essential or soft skills to navigate post-secondary education or the work world

About 70 percent of Collegiate Academies’ students are pursuing traditional college pathways, Katz said. The rest are on pathways to obtain industry credentials, associate degrees or other certifications.

“All of our schools are committed to preparing students for college success, and at the same time, we have a percentage of the student body that is not interested in college or going right away,” Katz said. “We have students who are passionate about other pathways, and that is just as exciting. We still want to make sure they are making decisions from a place of power, choice, and opportunity, rather than necessity.”

To maximize student choice and resilience, Swinburn said YouthForce focuses on skill clusters and teaching students the abilities they can transfer across different industries. Those clusters are skilled crafts, health sciences, digital media and business services.

By learning skills and building social capital in these clusters, New Orleans students can be prepared for, and connected to, high-wage jobs in numerous sectors, including construction, engineering, health care, graphic design, information technology, financial services and more.

Currently, YouthForce NOLA is establishing its goals for 2025, but Swinburn said some key themes for the next five years will be deepening efforts toward graduate readiness, building connectivity for alumni all the way to the point of first hire, and expanding the YouthForce coalition of partners working in services of its shared vision.

“We know we are on the right track,” Swinburn said. “Young people are making informed choices. They are more engaged in school and more prepared for work and post-secondary education. The next phase is to leverage the vast YouthForce NOLA network to be a thriving career connection network on behalf of New Orleans youth.”

Original Post

Education systems must better match programs to La. workforce needs, panel members urge

By Ken Stickney, The Acadiana Advocate

Leading educators promoted a mission of educating Louisiana people, including that hard-pressed portion of the population with a high school degree or less, for success in the workforce.

Kim Hunter Reed, commissioner of higher education; Holly Boffy, who represents District 7 of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education; and Monty Sullivan, president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System spoke pointedly of the gap that rests between the state’s people and the need for credentialed employees in the workforce.

The panel was part of Reset Louisiana’s Future, a one-day program presented by the Public Affairs Research Council, CABL and the Committee of 100 for Economic Development. The program was the initial public program offered by the Kathleen Babineaux Blanco Public Policy Center at The University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Reed said the state must invest in a system redesign, one that matches the needs of the vast, undereducated population with the benefits education can provide.

“Louisiana must solve the education gap to meet the workforce challenge,” she said, referring to that challenge as a “big-vision work.”

“What if every house had a degree or credential?” Sullivan asked. That would provide the solution to the state’s financial problems.

The state’s Board of Regents has set a goal of 60 percent of the population holding credentials for the “knowledge-based economy” by 2030. An outside study suggested 56 percent of Louisiana’s 2.42 million work-capable people should be credentialed now, such that they could qualify for jobs that pay living wages or better. But Barry Erwin, president and CEO of the Council for a Better Louisiana, panel moderator, said only 44 percent of the workforce holds such credentials.

Sullivan said that LCTCS is in hot pursuit of people ages 21-27 who have missed opportunities to gain workforce credentials and need another chance.

“Adults in Louisiana face daunting circumstances,” he said. “With a high school diploma or less, they work two or three part-time jobs with no benefits.”

He said LCTCS has shifted in the past two decades from degrees to providing the chance for people to earn credentials that will help them land and keep meaningful jobs. That, he said, positions them to become “contributors,” not “takers” in the state’s social and economic systems.

Boffy said K-12 education pointed to diplomas with workforce value as early in this decade; the first class graduated 2 percent of its students poised for work. Since then, she said, some quarter of all K-12 students have become workforce ready by graduation.

But, she said, the conversation must shift: Parents need to promote not just four-year education but also two-year degrees or other credentials that will help their sons and daughters enter the workforce with the chance to succeed.

“The reality needs to match the message,” she said. “What are our true needs? Looking at data, not all students need a four-year degree.”

Reed said it’s important that school systems match aptitudes of students to opportunities in employment. She suggested an “intentional design” that exposes young people to workforce opportunities early in their educations – not at the end.

Sullivan touted efforts to reclaim the potential of workers who need continuing education. Educational opportunities, he said, can be imperiled for non-traditional students by simple, unexpected financial hits — car problems or other life challenges. He recommended more help for students who live on the financial edge.

He said those at-risk learners need to know that enrolling in classes can gain them entry to excellent employers. For example, he said, students at SOWELA in Southwest Louisiana have an edge in getting jobs at premier employers like Sasol near Lake Charles. Those non-traditional learners also need to see success stories — people like them who’ve earned credentials and are holding good jobs.

Boffy said students in K-12 can gain confidence by enrolling in courses that point them toward successful careers. They can develop confidence on their high school campuses by taking relevant courses.

She said K-12’s goal by 2025 is that all students will be exposed to dual-enrollment courses that will point to workforce success.

 

Original Post

“Let’s strive to inspire a ‘new normal’ for education where schools become hubs of innovation, incubators for entrepreneurism” with Penny Bauder & Kellie Lauth

By Penny Bauder, Founder of Green Kid Crafts — Thrive Global

As a part of my series featuring accomplished women in STEM and Tech, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kellie Lauth, CEO of mindSpark Learning and District STEM Coordinator for Adams 12 Five Star School District. She directs the mindSpark Learning team in disrupting the educational landscape, empowering teachers with robust professional learning and creating transformational shifts in the classroom. As the District STEM Coordinator, she oversees STEM expansion in the Adams 12 District and state of Colorado. Lauth played an integral role in opening one of the first K-8 STEM schools in the nation in 2009, serving public school children with no entrance requirement. She continues to champion partnerships with businesses, industry and higher education to support and promote STEM education and address workforce readiness.

As a leader in STEM education and professional development, she is co-founder of STEMinspired.org and is a member of CS for ALL. Lauth received a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree in curriculum and instruction with a science education emphasis from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Kellie was a biochemical engineer in the field for two years before becoming an educator. Her first educator role was as a science teacher.

Thank you so much for doing this with us Kellie! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Immediately after graduating, I was a biochemical engineer for two years. I missed the academic environment and went on to teach science. As an educator, I saw a huge gap between what we were teaching and what employers needed their incoming workforce to know. There was a critical need for students to connect with industry to gain authentic, real-world experience through work-based learning.

I worked with my school to develop problem-based learning (PBL) methods to implement in the classroom, which relied strongly on relationships with local industry to solve local challenges. In my career as an educator, I was charged with then taking the PBL model and introducing it to other schools in the district. This was often met with quite a bit of resistance, as educators expected the change to be time consuming with little results. Luckily, most changed their minds once they saw students were more engaged and eager to collaborate with each other and industry partners. Today, we have completely shifted what it means to teach and learn STEM. With over 460 industry partners engaged in our schools, we have more girls in computer science programming than boys and our Hispanic students are out-graduating their white counterparts. We are creating learning models that make the invisible visible and give voices and choices to typically underrepresented populations in STEM.

When the founders of mindSpark Learning asked me to join as CEO, it was a resounding YES! The opportunity to expand my STEM work and create a deep impact in the communities we care about is the right work for me. Three years later, we are delivering — we have created a community in which we can help educators get students to the right place through unique, customized professional development.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?

The realization of just how large the gap is between educators and industry partners was quite surprising. Neither group knew how to work with the other. We build programs to address this, directly intersect the two.

When I took on the role as CEO of mindSpark Learning, I quickly saw that we had to build the infrastructure and training for the two worlds to communicate, share language and outcomes, and define meaningful work. It wasn’t enough to say, “work together,” then leave the groups to their own devices. Once we paid attention to the “how” of intersecting industry and education, the results on either side skyrocketed.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I assumed leading and turning around an urban title school with a large staff, tight budget, in a tough neighborhood would qualify me to run a start-up organization. Although many skills and lessons learned transcended across the experiences, my learning curve was enormous during my first year. (Admittedly, I still binge read and listen to podcasts relating to business daily).

In a short amount of time, I had to learn to manage ideas and intellectual property (IP), and invest in professional capital very differently while holding tight to my strengths as a leader. There was no room for self-doubt and I had to manage myself and expectations differently because I was beyond my comfort zone. We actually built an entire disruption cycle based upon this experience and use it in our trainings.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We are a nonprofit that looks more like a startup. We constantly punch above our weight. Our values are apparent in every decision we make and every plan we execute. We have figured out how to be customizable and scalable. The direct intersection of educators and industry partners is our strength and our programming and services transcend across organizations.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We have two incredible STEM initiatives taking place now. The first is IBM AI for Teachers; In partnership with IBM, we’re bringing teachers in North America a professional learning experience around AI and its role in K-12 education. We’re hosting two-day in-person institutes in 16 cities across the country over the next year and have a series of online institutes that go live next month. AI will change 100% of jobs in the next 10 years and this initiative helps educators prepare students by thinking about AI and learning how it can be integrated into everyday life.

Our second exciting project is STEMpath, is a 12-month, graduate-level STEM certification course for educators in partnership with mindSpark Learning, Couragion, Metropolitan State University of Denver and Colorado Succeeds. We merge graduate-level coursework with professional learning coursework and work-based learning experience through industry externships. We’re currently enrolling Colorado educators for our second cohort. We hope to expand this program nationally in the coming year. This hands-on program enables educators to become true STEM experts and bring their real-world experiences into the classroom.

Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Are you currently satisfied with the status quo regarding women in STEM? What specific changes do you think are needed to change the status quo?

I am not satisfied. There needs to be more strategic pathways and opportunities for women to engage in robust STEM careers, as well as more access to leadership positions in STEM. I believe strongly in early exposure to intentional STEM careers and we need more women mentors and more opportunities for young girls to see value in these types of jobs. It starts with education.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women in STEM or Tech that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts? What would you suggest to address this?

The “broken rung” issue is huge in the tech space. Women just aren’t securing management and executive positions or board leadership the way their male counterparts are. The STEM education gap is part of the reason why. If we can improve access to STEM education by credentialing our educators, we can better prepare the future workforce.

I believe in hiring the best candidate for the position and I also believe in diverse and divergent thinking. Organizations have to have a healthy, collaborative environment and women are a vital part of building that strong innovative culture.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a woman in STEM or Tech. Can you explain what you mean?

The notion that there are plenty of opportunities for women in STEM is somewhat misguided. Tech organizations are aware of the gender gap. However, many don’t consider important steps to ensure females can succeed and grow in their roles. There needs to be a stronger focus on human capital and how to upskill, retain and recruit women across all sectors.

For women pursuing STEM careers, remember it is about confidence and mindset as much as it is about qualification.

For companies, diversity and inclusion statements are helpful for ensuring there is movement beyond compliance statements to include action and implementation. This is how policies can translate into meaningful change.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience as a Woman in STEM or Tech” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Embrace the challenges and engage your team to solve problems: systems are capable of solving their own problems with the resources they have when we empower them to do so.
  2. Ask questions and seek advice: knowledge and experience are the greatest tools I have, I don’t have all the answers and it’s important to come to terms with that.
  3. Find the weirdest connections you can to transact a win-win (this is my favorite): some of the best partnerships are successful because of contrasting mindsets
  4. The pipeline of talent is as important to invest in as your technology: create IP using your talent pool ensures its scalable and sustainable
  5. Be grateful: nobody likes a leader who forgets where they come from or is unrelatable

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

I have five tips:

  1. Aim to thrive, not just succeed.
  2. Mentor and help other female colleagues and those in the talent pipeline access opportunities. We are stronger together.
  3. Embrace a fail forward mindset early on and encourage your employees to fail fast and pivot. Those that aren’t afraid to fail are the most innovative.
  4. Find the time and space to be creative.
  5. Be courageous in your decisions and mindset.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

  1. Be a conscious leader and check in often to ensure you are not perpetuating further limitations and barriers for others.
  2. Invest in other’s education and upskilling.
  3. Distribute leadership and empower others to lead within your team.
  4. Be honest.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have been incredibly lucky to have teachers, mentors and role models throughout my life who not only inspire me, but also keep me going. Many have become my “critical friends” when I need it the most.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Running a national education nonprofit is a gift. I believe the majority of the greatest problems facing humanity today can be addressed through education. Investing in educators and students is the greatest lever we have to change the world and I am so grateful every day for this work. I have the best team on the planet!

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I strive to inspire a “new normal” for education where schools become hubs of innovation, incubators for entrepreneurism and problem-solving centers. There would be ecosystems of K-12 education, community, higher education and industry focused on engaging students in relevant and authentic learning. This would not just be reserved for those who can but truly a robust model of STEM education for all.

Can you please give us your favorite ”Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“If you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.” (Brene Brown)

This reflects not only my values, but my leadership style. I strive to create a strong family atmosphere among my teams. We depend on each other, question each other, engage in discourse and conflict and rally! I believe if you are going to give feedback, it should not be anonymous. It’s important to speak your truth. Don’t think of strength and vulnerability as mutually exclusive. here is something empowering about tackling problems together, going through tough times as a team and succeeding or surviving. The work we do every day is not easy and if I cannot create a culture that embraces failure as much as success and allows people the space and time to create and execute, I am not doing my job as CEO. If you are not at the table, then you just might be on the menu, so jump into the arena!

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

-Virginia (Ginny) Rometty (IBM)

-Marillyn Hewson (Lockheed Martin)

 

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Austin’s Strategy to Bring Back Middle-Skill Jobs

At City Summit 2018, 50 cities committed to new initiatives to support their innovation economies. NLC’s City Innovation Ecosystems program collects and tracks these commitments in order to showcase successes, identify best practices and connect peer cities who can learn together. Here we share the story of one city’s work:

In a city where the unofficial slogan is “Keep Austin Weird”, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the innovation district is a little different too. While many cities form innovation districts as one component of a greater strategy for economic renewal, Austin’s economy has surged over the last decade.

The city has a five-year economic growth rate of six percent, spends more on university R&D per capita than Boston and is widely recognized as the fastest growing city in America.

But the benefits of this growth, for the most part, have been accrued to high-skilled, imported talent in the city’s booming tech and data sectors, leaving many long-time Austin residents behind. There remain opportunities to create meaningful career pathways for middle-income, moderately skilled, long-term residents.

As part of a strategy to create those pathways, Austin is aggressively expanding its health and life sciences sectors. Nationally, these two sectors produce more middle-skills jobs than many tech-related industries. The University of Texas at Austin recently opened its Dell Medical School, the city’s first. It has partnered with Ascension Seton, Central Health, the Downtown Austin Alliance, the Austin Chamber of Commerce, the city of Austin, and Travis County to create a new health and life sciences innovation district — led by a non-profit organization, Capital City Innovation. Dell Med and Austin’s Innovation District create new opportunities for collaboration among health researchers, care providers, corporations and startups. These collaborations, and the 12,000+ jobs the city’s consortium hopes they create, could support the kind of inclusive economic growth the community desires.

In 2018, Austin joined 50 U.S. cities in making commitments to support innovation and entrepreneurship through the NLC City Innovation Ecosystems program. Austin committed to creating a public-private partnership to launch an innovation district anchored by the Dell Medical School.

In order to create synergy among the district’s many partners, a non-profit, Capital City Innovation, was created. Capital City Innovation’s inaugural executive director is Christopher Laing — a veteran of consortium innovation district programming who moved to Austin from Philadelphia at the end of 2017. We caught up with Chris to learn more about how Austin’s commitment is going:

While medical research, innovation and entrepreneurship go hand-in-hand in many cities, Austin has historically relied on its software engineering, data analytics and logistics sectors to drive its economy.  What makes this moment particularly ripe for a health care-centered innovation district?

When I left my previous job in Philadelphia and took a job with Capital City Innovation, I knew what was happening in Austin was special.

First, many of Austin’s strengths in data analytics, e-commerce and software development are being aggressively adopted in the health and life science sectors. Austin is uniquely positioned to take advantage of that evolution.

Second, we know there is a need to change the way health care is provided in the United States. UT-Austin didn’t have a medical school prior to 2015. In 2012, county residents passed a tax increase to create one: the Dell Medical School. I recognized the incredible opportunity Austin was pursuing to create an outcomes-focused, innovative health ecosystem essentially from scratch, with less entrenchment from legacy systems — and in a city that would enable new ideas to scale nationally.

Lastly, we had physical space to create something. Directly across the street from Dell Med, is the former Brackenridge Medical Center, a 14-acre complex that is being redeveloped as the core of Austin’s Innovation District. The flagship building is under construction now, and follow-on build-to-suit opportunities are in the process of being planned. The Innovation District will be a vibrant new neighborhood in Austin’s downtown — the place where the University, Austin’s Red River Cultural District, the Texas State Capitol, the Waterloo Greenway and commercial landscape blend and merge.

This work undoubtedly requires a lot of coordination among public, private and non-profit organizations. How has each played a role throughout the development phase of the district?

Capital City Innovation is a convening organization. Austin’s Innovation District is a consortium of many private and public entities, but CCI is the only organization that is exclusively focused on Austin’s Innovation District. It coordinates and synergizes the activities and capabilities of its stakeholders in the strategy, planning, and implementation of the district.

The Innovation District’s governance reflects the core innovation district property – The University of Texas at Austin (and its Dell Medical School), Ascension Seton (which operates the Dell Seton Medical Center), and Central Health (which owns the 14-acre site) — along with key stakeholders including the Downtown Austin Alliance, the Austin Chamber of Commerce (Opportunity Austin), the city of Austin and Travis County. CCI used the NLC call to action as a catalyst for linking the bylaws and governance structure to the Innovation District’s strategy and operating plan.

CCI’s working groups are designed to promote cooperation and synergy among a broad network of stakeholder. The Affinity Group includes representation from six health and life science business incubators and accelerators throughout Central Texas — our domestic startup pipeline. The Magnet Group creates a platform for collaboration among people who are interfacing with companies with an interest in Austin — including the Chamber’s business development team, the city’s economic development office and the university’s corporate relations groups. The Place Steering Committee brings together those of the district’s stakeholders and neighbors who are involved in physical planning and implementation. Program and communications working groups are in the planning stages.

It’s a challenge whenever you’re collaborating with a large number of organizations. The good news is everyone agrees on a 30-year vision for the district. When it comes to agreeing on a 12-month vision, it can be a little more challenging. This concept is new in Austin, though, so a few growing pains are to be expected.

Are there early signs that the collaboration is paying off?

A key project for the consortium in 2019 was a preliminary evaluation of the projected economic benefits associated with the strategic vision for the Innovation District. Since Austin is already on a steeply positive economic trajectory, is there a benefit to making additional investments in an Innovation District? The evaluation, which was conducted independently by the Downtown Austin Alliance and HR&A Associates, suggests that even compared to Austin’s current trajectory, the Innovation District will have a substantial positive impact on the community, creating greater economic value and more (and more diverse, especially middle-skills) job opportunities. We’re in the process of building out workforce pipelines into the professions we expect health and life science companies will need, while being careful not to reinvent the wheel.

We’ve also hit the ground running with programming. We focus on connecting innovators, attracting investment, and building workforce capacity. Our programs include a collaborative element — involving the medical school or other health-related stakeholders with companies, startups and community organizations.

For example, we work with the Dell Medical School in helping local entrepreneurs and investors to access expertise in clinical translation with an education series on health and life science product development. But we also like to partner laterally. We recently collaborated on a meetup called Hot Summer Nights. We collaborated with the Downtown Austin Foundation, the Art Alliance, and the Red River Cultural District to connect people in the healthcare community with local artists and musicians. We want to promote the blending of cultural and scientific innovations, and to position the Innovation District as a place for partnering.

Lastly, we’re happy to announce that we’ve pulled the trigger on new construction at the Brackenridge site. We’re in the demolition phase now and expect the first new building to be finished by 2022. Located right on Austin’s largest downtown public space, Waterloo Park, the Innovation District’s flagship building will be a microcosm of the district as a whole, with spaces for startups, university R&D, the community and investment firms. And I expect it to be quickly surrounded by a vibrant neighborhood of new ideas and experiences.

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New Orleans’ highest paying jobs that only require a high school diploma

By Erika Ferrando, WWL

Everyone wants to make a lot of money, right?

Well, it’s no surprise that it takes a lot of work to be successful, but does that mean college is always the best route to achieve that success? There are many jobs out there that pay well and only require a high school diploma.

There are 593,500 jobs in New Orleans according to the Louisiana Workforce Commission. The median household income in Orleans Parish is $39,576 according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 2018. There are thousands and thousands of jobs that pay much more that the average person working in the city and not all of these jobs require college education.

“There is opportunity out there for people coming out of high school that want to go on a career path,” said Brandon Smith, Managing Partner with Flexicrew Technical Services.

He works with companies who are looking to hire people that may only have graduated high school. Some of these jobs can lead to high paying positions.

While most of the highest paying jobs in the crescent city are held by college graduates, there are also many jobs with comparable pay, held by workers with only a high school diploma.

“They start earning money several years sooner than someone who goes to college too,” said Adam Bermudez, President of Worknet Staffing

Those years of experience also come without what can be crippling student debt. It’s Bermudez’s and Smith’s job to find employees for companies. Many of the companies they work with only require high school education.

“Once they determine you have the proper character they’re looking for, they’ll provide you with on the job training,” Bermudez said.

They believe the idea that a college degree is needed to succeed is outdated.

“That is absolutely changing, especially with the market were in with so many opportunities in different industries,” Smith said.

Over at the New Orleans Cold Storage, Marquel Broussard is a Warehouse Assistant Manager. NOCS stores mostly poultry. It’s the oldest cold storage company in North America. Broussard started working in the warehouse at NOCS almost eight years ago as what’s called a piece worker.

“Pretty much consider them the muscle, so they do the physical work,” he said.

“A material handler is going to start on average at $18.50 an hour,” said Andre Bourgeois who recruits for NOCS.

Broussard was quickly promoted to forklift operator and kept climbing the ladder.

“The pay was phenomenal so I continued with the career,” Broussard said.

Broussard never graduated from college, but at 33-years-old with a manager title he’s poised to earn close to, if not more than, a six figure salary.

marquel broussard
WWL-TV

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Transportation, Storage, and Distribution managers, like Broussard, have a median annual wage of $94,730. It’s the highest paying job for people with only high school.

“A warehouse manager can make six figures,” Bourgeois said.

“It shows when you have self initiative, pride, dedication, and you apply yourself in the right ways, you can conquer all things,” Broussard said.

With all of the ports, plants, shipyards, construction, and unique fields in Louisiana, there are opportunities to grow in companies that often prefer to train employees themselves”

“A lot of our leadership is homegrown for us,” Bourgeois said.

“In the New Orleans, the gulf coast industry, the maritime industry, construction industry, and petro-chem refineries are very big employers,” Smith said.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2018), these are the median annual wages for some of the highest paying jobs that don’t require a college degree:

  • Captains, Mates, and Pilots of Water Vessels: $93,010 
  • Power Plant Operators, Distributors, and Dispatchers: $83,020 
  • Supervisors of Construction and Extraction workers: $65,230 
  • Police Supervisors and Detectives: $89,030
  • Commercial Pilots (excluding airline pilots): $82,240
  • Elevator Installers and Repairers: $79,780
  • Postmasters and Mail Superintendents: $75,970

One of the fastest growing industries Bermudez and Smith see is I.T. Software Development Firms need people skilled in computer programming and coding. A lot of these people are self taught in high school and as long as they can do the job, many companies will hire them without a college degree.

“They’re begging for them,” Bermudez said. “Those can easily morph into $80-90,000 a year jobs pretty quickly.”

Trade jobs can also pay well.

“I didn’t get into this knowing I was going to love it, I just did,” said Max Ruehle, an electrician and instructor with an apprenticeship program through the union, IBEW.

“We’re in demand and the demand just keeps on increasing,” he said.

high school diploma salaries
Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows how much you’re likely to make with a high-school diploma.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Students get paid on the job and avoid student loans since the five years of training wont cost them.

“Out of the apprenticeship program, the base salary for electricians through the union IBEW LOCAL 130, is $62,524,” Ruehle said. “With overtime you could make 80 to 100 grand.”

Workers like Ruehle and Broussard are proving there are opportunities that offer success, despite what path you decide to take.

There are programs like YouthForce NOLA and Jump Start that help kids out of high school find successful career paths like these that come with high paying jobs.

 

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Inspirational Women in STEM and Tech: “Let’s strive to inspire a ‘new normal’ for education where schools become hubs of innovation, incubators for entrepreneurism” with Kellie Lauth of mindSpark Learning

By Penny Bauder, Authority Magazine

a part of my series featuring accomplished women in STEM and Tech, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kellie Lauth, CEO of mindSpark Learning and District STEM Coordinator for Adams 12 Five Star School District. She directs the mindSpark Learning team in disrupting the educational landscape, empowering teachers with robust professional learning and creating transformational shifts in the classroom. As the District STEM Coordinator, she oversees STEM expansion in the Adams 12 District and state of Colorado. Lauth played an integral role in opening one of the first K-8 STEM schools in the nation in 2009, serving public school children with no entrance requirement. She continues to champion partnerships with businesses, industry and higher education to support and promote STEM education and address workforce readiness.

As a leader in STEM education and professional development, she is co-founder of STEMinspired.org and is a member of CS for ALL. Lauth received a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree in curriculum and instruction with a science education emphasis from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Kellie was a biochemical engineer in the field for two years before becoming an educator. Her first educator role was as a science teacher.


Thank you so much for doing this with us Kellie! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

mmediately after graduating, I was a biochemical engineer for two years. I missed the academic environment and went on to teach science. As an educator, I saw a huge gap between what we were teaching and what employers needed their incoming workforce to know. There was a critical need for students to connect with industry to gain authentic, real-world experience through work-based learning.

I worked with my school to develop problem-based learning (PBL) methods to implement in the classroom, which relied strongly on relationships with local industry to solve local challenges. In my career as an educator, I was charged with then taking the PBL model and introducing it to other schools in the district. This was often met with quite a bit of resistance, as educators expected the change to be time consuming with little results. Luckily, most changed their minds once they saw students were more engaged and eager to collaborate with each other and industry partners. Today, we have completely shifted what it means to teach and learn STEM. With over 460 industry partners engaged in our schools, we have more girls in computer science programming than boys and our Hispanic students are out-graduating their white counterparts. We are creating learning models that make the invisible visible and give voices and choices to typically underrepresented populations in STEM.

When the founders of mindSpark Learning asked me to join as CEO, it was a resounding YES! The opportunity to expand my STEM work and create a deep impact in the communities we care about is the right work for me. Three years later, we are delivering — we have created a community in which we can help educators get students to the right place through unique, customized professional development.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?

The realization of just how large the gap is between educators and industry partners was quite surprising. Neither group knew how to work with the other. We build programs to address this, directly intersect the two.

When I took on the role as CEO of mindSpark Learning, I quickly saw that we had to build the infrastructure and training for the two worlds to communicate, share language and outcomes, and define meaningful work. It wasn’t enough to say, “work together,” then leave the groups to their own devices. Once we paid attention to the “how” of intersecting industry and education, the results on either side skyrocketed.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I assumed leading and turning around an urban title school with a large staff, tight budget, in a tough neighborhood would qualify me to run a start-up organization. Although many skills and lessons learned transcended across the experiences, my learning curve was enormous during my first year. (Admittedly, I still binge read and listen to podcasts relating to business daily).

In a short amount of time, I had to learn to manage ideas and intellectual property (IP), and invest in professional capital very differently while holding tight to my strengths as a leader. There was no room for self-doubt and I had to manage myself and expectations differently because I was beyond my comfort zone. We actually built an entire disruption cycle based upon this experience and use it in our trainings.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We are a nonprofit that looks more like a startup. We constantly punch above our weight. Our values are apparent in every decision we make and every plan we execute. We have figured out how to be customizable and scalable. The direct intersection of educators and industry partners is our strength and our programming and services transcend across organizations.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We have two incredible STEM initiatives taking place now. The first is IBM AI for Teachers; In partnership with IBM, we’re bringing teachers in North America a professional learning experience around AI and its role in K-12 education. We’re hosting two-day in-person institutes in 16 cities across the country over the next year and have a series of online institutes that go live next month. AI will change 100% of jobs in the next 10 years and this initiative helps educators prepare students by thinking about AI and learning how it can be integrated into everyday life.

Our second exciting project is STEMpath, is a 12-month, graduate-level STEM certification course for educators in partnership with mindSpark Learning, Couragion, Metropolitan State University of Denver and Colorado Succeeds. We merge graduate-level coursework with professional learning coursework and work-based learning experience through industry externships. We’re currently enrolling Colorado educators for our second cohort. We hope to expand this program nationally in the coming year. This hands-on program enables educators to become true STEM experts and bring their real-world experiences into the classroom.

Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Are you currently satisfied with the status quo regarding women in STEM? What specific changes do you think are needed to change the status quo?

I am not satisfied. There needs to be more strategic pathways and opportunities for women to engage in robust STEM careers, as well as more access to leadership positions in STEM. I believe strongly in early exposure to intentional STEM careers and we need more women mentors and more opportunities for young girls to see value in these types of jobs. It starts with education.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women in STEM or Tech that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts? What would you suggest to address this?

The “broken rung” issue is huge in the tech space. Women just aren’t securing management and executive positions or board leadership the way their male counterparts are. The STEM education gap is part of the reason why. If we can improve access to STEM education by credentialing our educators, we can better prepare the future workforce.

I believe in hiring the best candidate for the position and I also believe in diverse and divergent thinking. Organizations have to have a healthy, collaborative environment and women are a vital part of building that strong innovative culture.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a woman in STEM or Tech. Can you explain what you mean?

The notion that there are plenty of opportunities for women in STEM is somewhat misguided. Tech organizations are aware of the gender gap. However, many don’t consider important steps to ensure females can succeed and grow in their roles. There needs to be a stronger focus on human capital and how to upskill, retain and recruit women across all sectors.

For women pursuing STEM careers, remember it is about confidence and mindset as much as it is about qualification.

For companies, diversity and inclusion statements are helpful for ensuring there is movement beyond compliance statements to include action and implementation. This is how policies can translate into meaningful change.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience as a Woman in STEM or Tech” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Embrace the challenges and engage your team to solve problems: systems are capable of solving their own problems with the resources they have when we empower them to do so.
  2. Ask questions and seek advice: knowledge and experience are the greatest tools I have, I don’t have all the answers and it’s important to come to terms with that.
  3. Find the weirdest connections you can to transact a win-win (this is my favorite): some of the best partnerships are successful because of contrasting mindsets
  4. The pipeline of talent is as important to invest in as your technology: create IP using your talent pool ensures its scalable and sustainable
  5. Be grateful: nobody likes a leader who forgets where they come from or is unrelatable

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

I have five tips:

  1. Aim to thrive, not just succeed.
  2. Mentor and help other female colleagues and those in the talent pipeline access opportunities. We are stronger together.
  3. Embrace a fail forward mindset early on and encourage your employees to fail fast and pivot. Those that aren’t afraid to fail are the most innovative.
  4. Find the time and space to be creative.
  5. Be courageous in your decisions and mindset.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

  1. Be a conscious leader and check in often to ensure you are not perpetuating further limitations and barriers for others.
  2. Invest in other’s education and upskilling.
  3. Distribute leadership and empower others to lead within your team.
  4. Be honest.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have been incredibly lucky to have teachers, mentors and role models throughout my life who not only inspire me, but also keep me going. Many have become my “critical friends” when I need it the most.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Running a national education nonprofit is a gift. I believe the majority of the greatest problems facing humanity today can be addressed through education. Investing in educators and students is the greatest lever we have to change the world and I am so grateful every day for this work. I have the best team on the planet!

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I strive to inspire a “new normal” for education where schools become hubs of innovation, incubators for entrepreneurism and problem-solving centers. There would be ecosystems of K-12 education, community, higher education and industry focused on engaging students in relevant and authentic learning. This would not just be reserved for those who can but truly a robust model of STEM education for all.

Can you please give us your favorite ”Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“If you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.” (Brene Brown)

This reflects not only my values, but my leadership style. I strive to create a strong family atmosphere among my teams. We depend on each other, question each other, engage in discourse and conflict and rally! I believe if you are going to give feedback, it should not be anonymous. It’s important to speak your truth. Don’t think of strength and vulnerability as mutually exclusive. here is something empowering about tackling problems together, going through tough times as a team and succeeding or surviving. The work we do every day is not easy and if I cannot create a culture that embraces failure as much as success and allows people the space and time to create and execute, I am not doing my job as CEO. If you are not at the table, then you just might be on the menu, so jump into the arena!

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

-Virginia (Ginny) Rometty (IBM)

-Marillyn Hewson (Lockheed Martin)

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Austin-area universities see boom in online enrollment

By Lara Korte, Statesman

Joseph TenBarge, the University of Texas’ assistant dean for instructional technology and facilities, runs something similar to a live TV studio. There are cameras, producers and even sometimes a “live studio audience.”

But when the lights switch on and the camera starts rolling, it’s not a host who does the talking — it’s a professor, broadcasting a lesson to hundreds, sometimes thousands, of students watching from their computers.

Nearly a quarter of UT students took an online class in 2018, up more than 80% from 2015. It’s a big leap for the school, but it’s not alone: across the country, hundreds of colleges are increasing their offering of online courses, encouraging students to take advantage of the convenience and flexibility that comes with “distance education.” Recently released federal data show 34.7% of all college students in the country took at least one online class in the fall of 2018.

“In 2015, we still only had a couple courses,” TenBarge said of the studio where professors can broadcast lectures, record podcasts and host virtual office hours. “Now, we’ve grown to providing over 5% of the university’s undergraduate credit hours.”

While it’s unclear what proportion of all Texas students are enrolled in an online class, data from individual institutions show that number is growing. At some Texas universities, more than half of all students are enrolled in an online class.

Austin-area universities also have seen a significant boom in online enrollment in the past several years. Along with UT, Texas State University, Concordia University Texas and Huston-Tillotson University have seen more than a 50% increase in online enrollment since 2015.

“I think more and more institutions are becoming aware of the need for online instruction to meet the work and family-life balance,” said Vedaraman Sriraman, associate vice president for academic affairs at Texas State. Since 2015, the school’s online enrollment has increased nearly 86%.

Sriraman attributes the boost, in part, to the fact that the school has worked to match its degree programs to the demands of the Texas workforce. Current online offerings include a Master of Science degree in data, analytics and information technology.

“A great majority of students will want a face-to-face interaction,” Sriraman said. “However, you always run into students who either their family life or their work life will not allow them to partake in face-to-face.”

For traditional undergraduate students, Texas State offers required core curriculum classes, like history and political science, online. While the price of online classes is on par with real ones at most universities, costs do vary depending on the course. At Texas State, for example, some courses include a distance learning fee of about $50 per credit hour, Sriraman said.

Learning technology has developed rapidly in recent years and is still going strong, said Drew Scheberle, Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce senior vice president of talent development. The evolution of tech in education has meant more people have greater access to higher education, Scheberle said.

“It’s happening in Austin, and, like a lot of things, it’s happening more quickly,” he said.

It has taken a few years for universities to hop on the online learning bandwagon. Clarissa Rosas, a Concordia University associate professor, remembers in 2000 when she proposed the first online class at a small Ohio university.

“They kind of thought I was nuts,” she said. “But I had a lot of mothers that were coming to my classes, and they were having a hard, hard, time with the 5 o’clock to 8 o’clock classes.”

Now, at Concordia, Rosas teaches the majority of her doctorate and master’s level classes online. But, even with the evolution of technology, some still aren’t believers. A 2017 study from researchers at Stanford University found online courses can improve access, yet they also are challenging, especially for students considered less prepared for college.

For such students, taking an online class increased the likelihood of dropping out the next semester, the researchers found.

Professors like Rosas say technology and accrediting processes have become more robust in past years, making online classes just as valuable as in-person ones.

At Concordia, online enrollment has risen about 57% since 2015.

For students like Matthew Melendez, a 32-year-old father of two with a part-time job, a college education wouldn’t be possible without online classes. He’s about four months away from graduating, and said he earned more than 90% of his credit online.

“To see that I can work school in and have my life at the same time, that was one of the major factors I was looking for,” Melendez said. “Being the main caretaker for my kids while my wife worked, I had to be able to make sure I could focus on kids and focus on work and still do what I needed to do.”

Many local universities said they plan to expand online courses in the future. As technology becomes more sophisticated, educators expect to see more universities and students embrace online learning.

“I think it’s just going to continue to grow,” Rosas said. “It’s not going away.”

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Most states missing key student data from their report cards. 3 parent empowerment groups have advice for making them better

By Laura Fay, LA School Report

Who should own education data?

If you ask the Data Quality Campaign’s Brennan McMahon Parton, it’s the community — students and their families have the right to know how their schools are doing for all students, she says. But some states are making that pretty difficult.

That’s why her organization partnered with two other parent empowerment groups to create a resource outlining advice and best practices for creating community-friendly state report cards. The Campaign worked with the National PTA and Learning Heroes to release Disaggregated Data: Not Just a Box Checking Exercise in late October.

An analysis of state report cards earlier this year by the Data Quality Campaign, a nonprofit focused on improving education data and making it more accessible, found that most states were not breaking out data for all of the student groups as required by federal law.

The analysis found that just 10 states separated out data for all of the required student groups in their state report cards: Delaware, Kentucky, Maine, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Wyoming. The others — plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico — were missing one or more student groups in their reports. Florida and Massachusetts have released new report cards since the analysis that show data for all groups from the 2018-2019 school year. Some other states may have also updated their report cards since Data Quality Campaign checked in January. The law’s flexibility and waivers make it difficult to track exactly which states are meeting the requirements.

“People deserve this data,” Parton told The 74. “It’s not the state’s data. It’s our data — it’s that community’s data. They deserve to have it in a way that’s easy to find, use and understand.”

Having access to state- and school-level data helps parents “do the math” about academic performance, Parton said. Parents are “pretty adept” at figuring out how well their students are doing in school by looking at the individual report cards their kids bring home and how the school is performing overall, she added. Clearer, easier to navigate school, district and state report cards help parents answer the bigger questions they have about their children’s schools and district, Parton said.

“Families and communities need a way to piece together that picture and understand, how are the adults, how are the leaders, how are the elected school board members in my school or district really supporting my student? Do I think they’re getting the best possible suite of opportunities?” Parton said. “A [state] report card is really the entry point for that conversation.”

Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, the federal education law passed in 2015, states must break out academic performance data for nine categories: gender, race and ethnicity, students with disabilities, students from low-income families, students learning English, students in foster care, students experiencing homelessness, students from military families, and students from migrant families.

Gathering and verifying all the numbers takes time, but states are working to make their data public, said Kirsten Carr, senior program director for student expectations at the Council of Chief State School Officers.

“States are deeply committed to getting all of the information out there as quickly as they can [while] making sure that it’s accurate,” she told The 74, noting that in some cases, education departments have to work across agencies to get the data they need.

State leaders are also working to make the information “meaningful” for parents and stakeholders, she said.

Several of the required groups, such as students experiencing homelessness and black and Latino students, have been historically underserved by schools and often land on the wrong side of achievement gaps.

Some of the state report cards that already display all of the groups may still lack key data.

Although New York is reporting statewide data for all of the groups, recent reporting from The 74 revealed that New York City, the nation’s largest school district with more than 1.1 million students, is not yet reporting broken out performance data for students in foster care. Proficiency rates for military-connected students and migrant students in New York City schools are also missing. The scores on the state report card reflect only the districts that have submitted detailed data to the state, meaning it is incomplete.

Having access to the data broken out for these cohorts can help families see how well schools are serving them. For example, the latest report card for New York City schools shows that 46 percent of students in third through eighth grade were proficient in math on the state test. But when the data is broken down by race, a gap appears: 67 percent of white students were proficient, compared to 28 percent of their black peers and 33 percent of Hispanic and Latino students.

In another example, the Chicago Public Schools district report card shows that 24 percent of all students were proficient on the state math test, but a closer look reveals that just 6 percent of English language learners passed the test in eighth grade.

The reporting requirements are meant to push states toward accountability and transparency, but there are no hard deadlines or consequences at this time. Parton said she and her team are “flummoxed” about why so many data points are missing from the report cards, especially because some of the missing student group requirements — such as reporting scores by gender — were also required under No Child Left Behind, the prior K-12 education law.

The organizations urge state leaders to do two things to improve their report cards: Make the data easier to find and help families understand the information. The second step has two parts:

1. Put the data in context: For example, show school data side by side with another school or with the overall state numbers for easy comparison or include a simple sentence that gives context.

2. Explain what the numbers mean and why they’re there: “Without context, the data appears to make a statement about students’ abilities when really it is a statement about how the school is serving its students,” the authors write. In other words, report cards should explain that breaking out student data is a judgment of the adults in schools rather than the kids.

The report also notes that report cards should be at an eighth-grade reading level to be accessible and to ensure accurate translations. An analysis by DQC found that the average reading level for state report cards was 14th grade, equivalent to “some college.”

Just adding a sentence or two about what the numbers mean and why they matter can make a big difference for parents, said Bibb Hubbard, founder and president of Learning Heroes, a nonprofit focused on improving parent access to education data. Additionally, she said, state report cards should prioritize the data that parents want. Parents are more interested in school performance than student attendance rates, for example, according to Learning Heroes research.

“Start with what they care most about because then you’ll get their attention,” she said. “If you start with the stuff that they don’t care about, you’ll lose them right away.”

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Want a White-Collar Career Without College Debt? Become an Apprentice

By Farah Stockman, New York Times

The offer of a new life arrived in the mail for the son of a laid-off steelworker: a scholarship to St. Louis University, where he dreamed of studying computer science.

But Tyler Holdener’s excitement quickly curdled into anxiety after he realized he would have to borrow nearly $14,000 a year, even with the school’s aid package.

He decided not to go to college. Instead, he is becoming a software application engineer through LaunchCode, a St. Louis-based nonprofit that taught him to code and placed him in an apprenticeship at Centene, a health care company.

“I’ve started my career and I don’t have any debt at all,” said Mr. Holdener, 20, who earns $20 an hour during the apprenticeship, an amount that will increase if he is hired full-time.

As the cost of a college education continues to soar, a new breed of apprenticeship is cropping up across the country, promising an affordable path to careers that once needed a bachelor’s degree or higher.

In California, one of a handful of states where people can take the bar exam without going to law school, a new program helps low-income black and Latina women become lawyers by apprenticing for four years under an experienced attorney. In Kentucky, young people are offered the chance to shadow experienced social workers and join the state’s Civil Service. In Chicago, community college students are training to become human resource managers and insurance brokers.

“Apprenticeships are proving to be an excellent alternative to the traditional four-year college degree,” said Aaron Olson of Aon, a professional services company that helped start the Chicago Apprenticeship Network, which hopes to place 1,000 apprentices next year.

Supporters of apprenticeships say expanding them would help young people more than proposals to cancel student debt or make college free put forth by Democratic presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

“When you push through an academic-only approach, that’s going to disadvantage people who learn better by doing,” said Robert Lerman, a fellow at the Urban Institute who has researched apprenticeships around the world.

But many parents and educators remain skeptical of diverting low-income students away from a classic liberal arts education.

“The danger is that we’ll create a two-tier system, where you have people who can afford to go to the elite colleges, who get the networks to move into a great career, while you have lower-level pathways for everyone else,” said Marie Cini, president of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, who supports expanding apprenticeships but acknowledges that the effort faces many challenges. “The question that I am starting to hear is ‘O.K., you are from the elite. Would you send your kid to that?’”

Nonetheless, some apprenticeship programs are highly competitive, receiving a hundred applications for every available slot.

“They can be more selective than Stanford or Harvard,” said Ryan Craig, author of “College Disrupted” and the managing director of University Ventures, a fund that invests in innovations to higher education.

The apprenticeship model, which typically combines classroom learning in a boot camp or community college with paid on-the-job experience, is popular in Europe. About half of all young people in Germany participate in one. Britain recently ramped up its apprenticeships. But the model has yet to be brought to scale in the United States.

Experts estimate that roughly a million people are participating in some type of apprenticeship program in the United States this year, compared with about 20 million who are enrolled in colleges and universities.

The Labor Department counts 633,625 active apprentices in 2019, up from 375,000 in 2013, but not all programs go through the time-consuming process of registering. Registration, which is voluntary, allows companies to seek federal help in developing curriculum, as well as tax credits in some states. Registration also allows veterans to use a portion of their G.I. Bill benefits to support participation in an apprenticeship.

Although most apprenticeships are still in skilled trades, such as plumbing and electrical work, in the past two years more than 700 programs have been created in white-collar or “new collar” fields such as cybersecurity, financial services, information technology and health care, according to Labor Department data.

The desire to expand apprenticeships reflects a rare area of bipartisan agreement. President Barack Obama pushed to increase their availability. President Trump, who gained fame with a reality television show called “The Apprentice,” has made expanding apprenticeships a signature policy. In June, the Trump administration proposed an alternative to the Labor Department’s program, which has been in place since 1937. The new system was supposed to cut through bureaucratic red tape by allowing industries to regulate their own apprenticeships. But that effort has stalled amid concerns that it would weaken worker protections and add more confusion to an already fragmented landscape.

“We would like to focus bipartisan efforts on modernizing the existing system,” said Mary Alice McCarthy, director of the Center on Education & Skills at New America. “Where it works, it works well.”

Despite the famous “You’re fired” catchphrase of Mr. Trump’s TV show, the beauty of the model is “that pretty much everybody who joins the program is hired,” Ms. McCarthy said.

The guarantee of a job was a key selling point for Dasom Diana Choi, 24, who joined the apprenticeship program at Techtonic, a software development group based in Boulder, Colo., that trains coders to work with its products and its clients. Ms. Choi dropped out of the University of San Diego after one semester because she worried about accruing debt.

“I was a little stressed out that even if I were to complete college, I wouldn’t have a job waiting for me,” she said. After years of working at a Chipotle, she studied coding on her own and considered going back to school for it. Instead she applied for the apprenticeship at Techtonic.

“It almost sounded too good to be true, getting paid to study,” she said.

She did not get into the program the first time but was accepted in the following cohort. After three months of classes by Techtonic, she is now apprenticing at one of its clients, building software for the music industry.

Heather Terenzio, founder and chief executive of Techtonic, said she had started the apprenticeship program as a cost-effective way to find local talent. She initially hired developers in Armenia but found communication challenging. Ms. Terenzio, a civil engineer who learned to code after college, realized that none of the senior managers had computer science degrees.

“We had this theory of, ‘I wonder if we could find passionate local people and teach them what we were doing,’” she said. Hundreds of people have graduated from the program since it registered with the Labor Department in 2016, she said. About 85 percent have been hired by Techtonic or its clients.

Some employers establish apprenticeship programs as a way to boost diversity. Others do it to create a pipeline of future employees for hard-to-fill positions who will remain loyal to the company that trained them. The Hartford, an insurance company, began working with community colleges in 2015 to offer students the chance to spend their summers handling customer’s calls. So far, about 80 have been hired full-time.

“Insurance isn’t something that people aspire to do,” said John Kinney, chief claims officer, who oversees about 7,000 employees. “You take a student who was in a two-year program in a community college who may be the first person in their family to work in a corporate environment, and seeing them succeed has been really gratifying to watch.”

Even in the field of law, apprenticeship programs are cropping up. In California, people can become lawyers by apprenticing for four years under an experienced attorney or judge and fulfilling other requirements, including passing the California bar. The number of people seeking to take this path jumped from 69 applicants in 2017 to 147 this year, according to the State Bar of California. Some of the interest is due to the media personality Kim Kardashian, who is trying to become a lawyer this way. But there is a larger movement afoot to make legal careers more affordable, said Rachel Johnson-Farias, the founding director of Esq. Apprentice, a new program that provides mentoring and cost-of-living assistance to legal apprentices.

Ms. Johnson-Farias, who earned a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley, said she aims to increase the number of lawyers serving low-income communities by helping black and Latina women pass the bar without taking on crushing debt. One of the program’s participants, Lauren Richardson, a 33-year-old freelance media producer, said her dreams of law school were derailed when lack of funds forced her to drop out of community college.

“You kind of have to choose, ‘Am I going to pay the bills or am I going to go back to school?’” said Ms. Richardson, who will be starting tort law classes next month through Esq. Apprentice. “It’s really like a story of redemption for me.”

One of the biggest obstacles to scaling up apprenticeships in the United States is employers’ reluctance to invest in the upfront costs of training workers who could take their skills elsewhere before those costs are recouped, an issue that has bedeviled work force development for generations. That has led some to conclude that a significant public investment is needed.

Nonetheless, some big employers are getting on board. Amazon began a program in 2017 that has helped about 500 veterans and military spouses train as software development engineers and technical support engineers. CVS Health, which employs 295,000 people nationwide, has had about 8,000 apprentices train to become pharmacy technicians, logistics technicians and store managers since 2015.

“We’re turning the ship in a different direction, and I think the employers will find it compelling,” said Mr. Lerman, of Urban Institute. “But they have a lot of inertia themselves. It’s a long-term strategy.”

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ST. ANDREW’S AND THE CTTL AWARDED SECOND EE FORD LEADERSHIP GRANT

St. Andrew’s Episcopal School and the Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning (CTTL) have been awarded a $250,000 EE Ford Educational Leadership Grant, becoming the first school to ever receive two such grants from the EE Ford Foundation. St. Andrew’s previously was awarded the leadership grant, the largest one the EE Ford Foundation annually hands out, in 2015.

“St. Andrew’s and the CTTL have been harnessing technology to bring the tools of cognitive neuroscience to teachers throughout the world and they now want to expand this effort to include students,” said John Gulla, Executive Director of the EE Ford Foundation. “The EE Ford Foundation has supported them in this work before and is pleased and proud to have made a second Educational Leadership Grant to the school for this exemplar of an effective program demonstrating the public purpose of a private school.”

St. Andrew’s was awarded its current grant to help build Neuroteach Global Student (NTGS), a companion to the CTTL’s highly successful Neuroteach Global, a first-of-its-kind digital professional development experience, rooted in MBE Science and currently used by thousands of teachers around the world. When completed, NTGS will help students build academic confidence, resilience, and performance by helping them learn how their own brains work and how to apply that knowledge to their own learning.

“Neuroteach Global Student (NTGS) provides a novel learning experience that uses the Science of Learning to teach students the Science of Learning,” said Glenn Whitman, Director of the Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning. “Our goal is to elevate 100% of St. Andrew’s students’ understanding of the research-informed strategies that can enhance their academic achievement and make them more efficient, confident, and healthy students. St. Andrew’s students will play a critical role in the building of NTGS as members of the team that will design this virtual learning experience. After launching at St. Andrew’s, NTGS will be shared with students from around the world.”

All EE Ford Leadership Grants are matching grants meaning St. Andrew’s will raise $250,000 from like-minded foundations and individuals to match the award. This is the fifth time St. Andrew’s has won a grant from the EE Ford Foundation. In addition to the Leadership Grant in 2015, St. Andrew’s also won grants in 1986 for professional development, 1999 for faculty laptops and 2005 for service learning.

“As the only school ever to receive a second leadership grant from the E.E. Ford Foundation, St. Andrew’s has strengthened its global reputation as a pioneer in research-informed education,” said St. Andrew’s Head of School Robert Kosasky. “As we build Neuroteach Global Student, the CTTL will provide St. Andrew’s students a singular opportunity to create, test, and benefit from this innovative and visionary new learning tool.”

The 2015 Leadership Grant helped launch the Science of Teaching and School Leadership Academy, which began in July 2017 and has been held every summer since. St. Andrew’s Upper School students will pilot NTGS in 2021, completion of NTGS is expected to become a St. Andrew’s graduation requirement by 2022, and NTGS is expected to reach at least 10,000 private and public school students by 2024, with subsidized rates for schools that could not otherwise afford to participate.

 

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