North Carolina's changing economy can't wait for a workforce with the skills that employers need now and that the state needs to thrive in the global marketplace. Schools and employers must work together like never before to ensure that students have real opportunities to learn skills that will give them good options after high school -- whether that means a trade-specific certification, a two-year degree, a four-year degree or even more.
North Carolina New Schools supports a more seamless education and training system that ensures increased rigor and skills development for all students -- high school should not funnel students into college prep OR career prep, but should instead prepare everyone to be both college- and career-ready. In order to make this shift, students and teachers need connections to real work experiences to develop the skills required for the new economy and schools need multiple design models to foster necessary innovation.
North Carolina's developing networks of career academies and STEM-focused innovative high schools are forging critical links to partners in business and higher education with the goal of providing students with hands-on, career-related experiences such as internships and apprenticeships. Schools must reach beyond the classroom and into the workplace for real-world learning; employers must understand their crucial role in helping prepare students by giving them opportunities for relevant work-linked learning.
Schools such as City of Medicine Academy in Durham and employers such as Duke Medicine are building the kind of bridges that extend education beyond the classroom into the world of work. Students at City of Medicine Academy come with an interest in a health care, but the connection with Duke deepens their engagement through exposure to real-life health care. Students come into regular contact with practicing health-care professionals -- nurses, physicians, technicians, researchers -- through internships and other structured experiences designed to be an integral and critical part of their education.
Vigorous connections with higher education are also raising the rigor of instruction and setting high expectations for students. NC State University, for example, is working closely with Wake NC State STEM Early College High School and the Northeast Regional High School of Biotechnology and Agriscience.
Whether the focus is the health and life sciences or energy and sustainability, education that integrates classroom instruction with real-life, work-related opportunities broadens the horizons of students. The workplace is often the ideal place for students to learn the kind of skills that employers say they need -- problem solving, critical thinking, effective communication.
- Advance a contemporary model of career and technical education that includes work-based experiences for all students and teachers, including Career Academies.
- Accelerate the development of STEM and regional schools linked to the economy.
- Support a more seamless education and training system that ensures increased rigor and skills development for all.