Author: Greg Wortham is workforce strategist for Collegiate Edu-Nation, collaborating with CEN communities to strengthen future career opportunities and economic activities for our students.
Jumping into your time machine for the 20thCentury, you might want to recruit General Motors or Saturn for a 5,000-person factory. In the 21st Century, you might seek Tesla or Amazon for the same objective. But do you really want to instantly inject a herd of elephants into your tulip garden? There are better ways to create sustainable jobs and career opportunities into a community of a few thousand than to overwhelm in one swoop … besides the fact that you would be competing head-to-head with every city in the country.
You can actually create opportunities one job at a time from within your own collegiate school district. Begin by assessing your resources, both internal and external, to focus your objectives on relevant and needed business and career opportunities. Collegiate Edu-Nation schools often create embedded “edu-businesses” within their own campuses or available community buildings. This edu-reality approach enables schools to become integrally involved in coaching students for holistic success through skills training, encouraging student initiative and creativity, and releasing realistic practical business services.
Collegiate school districts are already involved in a wide range of embedded student-driven business enterprises, such as maker spaces, robotics, drone operations, veterinary services, real estate, welding, or many other variations. The objective is to create professional business operations where students hone their craft and quality to serve community needs and learn daily client interactions and expectations.
State law may require direct professional leadership such as via veterinarians, or perhaps edu-businesses could be more actively led by students such as certified drone operators who can hire each other to optimize business projects. Each school district and its community allies can determine effective operational strategies.
Reaching out into the community, school districts can collaborate with existing business and industry for internship or training interests. Your community may have active business and industry leaders who are ready to launch business strategies with you, while other communities will prefer more school leadership to establish the protocols. Working through AVID or business entrepreneurship guidance, schools can work with students to assure readiness in soft skills such as work ethic, aptitude, and attitude.
An important opening conversation is to reach out to your regional Texas Workforce Commission solutions operation center to explore strategies and opportunities. Every community in Texas is within a state workforce region, usually headquartered in the area’s metro center (e.g., Lubbock, Tyler, San Angelo) but serving multiple counties. It is important to ally public schools with Texas Workforce Commission outreach and the state’s higher education institutions, so that schools are not in a stand-alone silo, but rather are part of a seamless network connecting students with career opportunities for ultimate success.
Each region has its unique workforce demands, and schools can work with their students, employers, and regional economic development resources to determine strategies that align students with realistic careers. Reach out to your Collegiate Edu-Nation contacts, roll up your sleeves, and let’s get started!
Love the idea of seamless movement from public primary and secondary education to tertiary education (workforce training, certificate programs, college, technical schools, university, professional school, graduate school, licensure, professional registration and certification. MOST of us eventually have to enter the workforce–as an employee, an employer, an entrepreneur. Full-time part-time, gig work, apprenticeship, internship, clinical experience, residency, entry level, promotion, etc, etc!
I had a colleague who talked about and promoted the concept not of a career path but of a career rainbow. He believed–years ago–that most of us would have a dozen jobs or more during our work careers, live in multiple states, live outside the U.S., completely change careers at least once, and work for more than 55 years! Sobering thoughts–but more often true than not!
The book Long-Life Learning confirms his predictions–and goes even further. CEN prepares students to be ready mentally and emotionally and eagerly for jobs in the future that do not even exist today.
Lots of opportunities–sometimes disguised as hurdles or problems. Let’s help our students turn those lemons into lemonade!