Monday, April 29, 2013

Career Paths for High School Students

Great things are on the horizon - and already happening - for career and technical education, as many states are starting to break from the bachelor-degrees-for-all focus and instead offering students the option of career training at the high school level.  From the old days of shop class, schools have come a long way in offering skilled training.  In Denver, the rise of the culinary arts is transforming high schools like Standley Lake High School which was recently profiled by Kevin Simpson of the Denver Post.  No doubt, the Food Network has renewed interest in the culinary arts, and that publicity has turned the job of chef into a bit of a glamorous career option.  In a rising culinary mecca like Denver, that is good news for students who are looking to develop solid career options.  One of the new angles in what used to simply be called "home ec" is the establishment of the ProStart program "which is a national program that offers curriculum, competitions and industry mentors through the Colorado Restaurant Association Education Foundation."  The ProStart program has taken the culinary arts into the classroom with great results for aspiring chefs.  Of course, the culinary arts is simply one field where students can make great use of time in high school to get started on careers.  More states are committing to developing career pathways for students in fields such as nursing, technology, and business.  Writing for EdWeek, Stephen Sawchuck profiles the growth of career classes in states such as Illinois that heeded the warning in 2011 from a Harvard study expressing concern about students not served by the strict college focus so prominent in high schools these days.  By focusing on developing education-business partnerships, schools like Wheeling High School in the Chicago suburbs are offering teenagers the sort of training and career paths that were once reserved for college internships and two-year associate degree programs.

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