AT A GLANCE
Resulting in a wide range of promising practices and success stories, Lehigh Valley’s Gold Collar Workers with Gold Collar Jobs initiative is a business-education partnership developed by the Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board, Inc. and Lehigh Valley Business-Education Partnership.
Several promising practices are highlighted in this document; results impacting the region’s school districts include the following:
Finding Your Pathway to a Gold Collar Payday: CareerFORCE One-Minute Videos:
Four one-minute career videos featuring local employees who graduated from area high schools and career and technical centers have been developed and are available on YouTube for use by various stakeholders.
Business/Education High School Career Awareness Course:
Developed in partnership with B. Braun Medical, Inc. in 2010, approximately 1,500 students in the Catasauqua School District have completed a 45-day course that includes a facility tour and an introduction to four career pathways: Arts and Humanities; Engineering and Technology; Business and Communications; and, Health and Human Services. The course provides industry speakers, tours, career development activities, employability skill development, and career portfolio development.
More than 4,000 students have participated in a weeklong career awareness and preparation academy, linking students with high priority occupations in targeted industry sectors through engaging activities.
Rotational Internship Program:
Currently in its fourth year of operation, the program has resulted in an eight-week, paid internship for 38 students from three career and technical centers.
Lehigh Valley Career Pathways Initiative:
A career pathways organizational structure is in development to promote regional collaboration among 17 school districts, three career and technical centers, and several postsecondary institutions. Representatives from the Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board, Inc. (LVWDB) have made presentations to the staff at several districts to provide information regarding the region’s workforce system and ways in which it relates to secondary learners.
The LVWDB, using funds from the Business-Education Partnership grant, organized a one-week externship for 32 Lehigh and Northampton county teachers at 12 area businesses.
Finding Your Pathway to a Gold Collar Payday: CareerFORCE One-Minute Videos:
When LVWDB was asked to be part of a teacher in-service day at Parkland School District during the 2015-2016 school year, they were concerned that teachers may have limited understanding of careers outside of commonly known white-collar positions. To expand awareness, four one-minute videos were developed for the in-service presentation, each one featuring a young employee who graduated from a local career and technical center and then went onto postsecondary learning or training. The videos, also used in a presentation at Southern Lehigh School District, were distributed to guidance counselors at all 17 school districts at the start of the 2016-2017 school year with the expectation that they would be used as a career development resource with many students.
Business/Education High School Career Education Course:
Organized through the Lehigh Valley Business Education Partnership, ninth grade students in the Catasauqua School District may enroll in a 45-day (one marking period) career education course that utilizes employees of B. Braun Medical, Inc. as industry experts. Started in September 2010 with 28 students, the program has since reached approximately 1,500 students. The school district designed the curriculum in alignment with Pennsylvania’s Career Education and Work Standards and Lehigh Valley Career Pathways.
Students begin the experience with a tour of B. Braun Medical, Inc. in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania where they learn that this 21st century manufacturing facility staffs a variety of careers including quality control, engineering, human resources, and various aspects of manufacturing.
As part of the first facility tour, students engage in a team-building exercise during which they wear hairnets, read a blueprint, and meet quality standards while assembling a simulated pain control kit. Students learn about sterile conditions, resilience, and teamwork as they follow directions, communicate with others, and are evaluated on their performance while placing candies into plastic containers masquerading as medical control devices.
As a follow-up to the facility tour, B. Braun Medical, Inc. and other regional business and industry employee volunteers journey into the freshman classroom to share information relating to employability skills, career interests, and specific career paths. Each of the Lehigh Valley Career Pathways is represented and the value of lifelong learning is emphasized. B. Braun Medical, Inc. human resource professionals also participate by sharing career planning guidance so that students may identify their potential career interests and build a practical plan to enter that career.
LVBEP is an approved Educational Improvement Tax Credit organization through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development that supports initiatives such as the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) CareerLinking Academy. As stated in its brochure, “CareerLinking Academy is aligned to the Pennsylvania Department of Education Academic Standards in Career Education and Work and adheres to federal, state, and local career education initiatives, such as High Schools That Work and Career Pathways, and may be used as a class or senior graduation project.
CareerLinking Academy is designed for integration in the school year curriculum or can be offered as a weeklong continuous project. The diverse curriculum is approved for Act 48 credits [continuing education credits for certified teachers].”
Described as an “interactive learning experience,” the academy focuses on several topics and activities for high school participants, including the following:
- Career planning;
- Interests assessment;
- 21st century workforce requirements;
- Leadership skills;
- Job and labor market information;
- Seminars on financing education and training;
- Interview skills and tips;
- Resumes and cover letter development;
- Job applications;
- Personal commercials;
- Mock interview with human resource professionals;
- Job shadowing;
- Business etiquette; and
- Postsecondary institution tours.
View younger students engaged in a July 2016 STEM CareerLinking Academy in this brief video clip.
Rotational Internship Program
Inspired by the German education model, B. Braun Medical, Inc., the Lehigh Workforce Investment Board, and Lehigh Career and Technical Institute partnered to develop the Rotational Internship Program for high school juniors and seniors enrolled in a manufacturing education program. Since its inception, the program has expanded to the region’s three career and technology centers and several manufacturers. Qualifying students are paired with an employee mentor at each of the four, six-week internship rotations. As explained in a Manufacturing Institute brochure, the student-employee mentor relationship is an important and positive aspect of the program:
“I see mentors getting so excited about developing the next generation – having these kids fully engaged, asking questions, and getting assignments,” said Lee Hippert, Manufacturing Maintenance Manager at B. Braun. “I sit down with the students and their mentors at the end of each internship and their interaction is so heartwarming. There’s a connection you don’t see in other venues. And you can tell our mentors really care about what the students think about our company, and what they think about manufacturing.”
Other benefits for student participants include an improved understanding and perception of manufacturing-related careers, the development of employability skills, and a clearer postsecondary career plan.
Lehigh Valley Career Pathways Initiative
Supported by grant funding, the objectives of this initiative are to (1) develop a common career pathways model; (2) institutionalize career pathways for the region’s school districts with input from two- and four-year colleges; and (3) monitor and enhance the model for ongoing improvement and sustainability.
Goals include the following:
- Establish a Career Pathways Advisory Committee of business, educators, workforce and economic development stakeholders to establish criteria and guidelines. (As it is a natural fit, current advisory committee members are also members of Lehigh Valley Business Education Partnership.)
- Develop and institutionalize a Lehigh Valley Common Career Pathways Model for participating school districts. (At present, all districts are using career pathways to different extents.)
- Develop a Strategic LVCPI Plan for focused implementation.
- Create customized career pathways core component implementation tools and support for participating schools including district assessments, planning tools and technical assistance.
- Develop work-based learning toolkits for students, teachers, mentors, and business. (Resources created by the non-profit organization Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children are utilized when appropriate.)
- In concert with LVBEP, coordinate educator externships, work-based learning, job shadowing, internships, and pre-apprenticeships.
- Develop specialized, career awareness labor market workforce intelligence with support from the Pennsylvania Center for Workforce Information and Analysis.
Career pathways maps are also created and shared with various stakeholders. School guidance counselors are encouraged to use these with students in an effort to increase their understanding of the education and experience needed to enter careers within specific industries and how they might advance within those careers. The maps also provide students with salary expectations.
Classroom teachers may utilize the career pathways maps as a basis for career awareness lessons. For example, students may be required to use the map as a starting point for independent research into their local labor market, employment requirements, potential job openings, training opportunities, and career advancement pathways within a company or industry.
High school teachers and guidance counselors had an opportunity to observe the manufacturing process and learn about careers within this industry during a five-day externship in June 2016. Participants spent two days visiting two different businesses; the fifth day was dedicated to developing a lesson plan or career ladder based on their experience. Those who completed these requirements were eligible to earn a $500 stipend.
An online article, Program links businesses and schools to create future workers, written by Wendy Solomon and posted at LVB.com featured the program and stated its purpose:
“Clyde K. Hornberger, former executive director of Lehigh Career & Technical Institute and a consultant to the workforce development board, said until companies articulate what their needs are and get those skills taught in schools, ‘It’s all just words.’ The idea behind the Educator Externship is designed to do just that, to fill in the gap between the needed skills and what’s being taught in schools, said Nancy Dischinat, executive director of LVWDB.”
The promising practices featured in this document are expected to continue, and additional initiatives may be implemented, provided that funding is available. A business education grant from the PA Department of Labor is secured for 2017.