At a Glance
The Carlisle Area School District partnered with the South-Central Workforce Development Board (SCPa Works) to provide underserved students with greater access to career training and employment opportunities.
Leaders in the Carlisle Area School District (CASD) wanted to help youth and young adults from underserved populations learn about careers and find a career path that aligns with their skills and interests and leads to family-sustaining wages or further training. To address this need, CASD collaborated with SCPa Works because the agency has the resources to help CASD students find employment and to fund their training and certification.
Through this partnership, Equus Workforce Solutions, a youth service provider in Cumberland County that serves out-of-school youth ages 16 to 24, developed a career awareness, exploration, and employment program called Workforce 101 for CASD students. At the request of CASD, the Workforce 101 program focuses on students with IEPs, from minority populations and/or who are economically disadvantaged (although all students may participate in the program).
Workforce 101 is a two-week, 20-hours series that provides students with a general overview of employability skills and preparation for entry-level employment. To participate, students must submit a referral form and a parental consent form. They attend the program for ten one-hour sessions each week at Carlisle High School during the club-career programming time or on a virtual meeting platform if needed. As of May 2021, the course is offered one time per year. Workforce 101 covers the following topics with students:
- Goal Setting
- Job Search & Labor Market Information
- College/Trade School Exploration
- Applications & Resumes
- Career Day Speakers
- Mock Interviews
- Financial Literacy & First day of Employment documents
- Community Resources
- Bi-Weekly Re-Cap
Once participants complete the 20-hour program, they receive assistance in finding employment and a $250 stipend.
CASD and Equus began planning for the program in 2020 and piloted Workforce 101 in early 2021. They needed a year of planning in order to coordinate the program components and complete the requirements for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding. (The program is funded through Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funds, specifically TANF funds.) Several school district employees and community stakeholders assumed responsibility for creating the partnership with Equus and for getting Workforce 101 up and running. The joint operation for setting up the program included administrators, cooperative education coordinators, special education teachers, school counselors, Equus staff, and the local chamber of commerce.
At first, program coordinators found it challenging to recruit students to the Workforce 101 program. To address this, they focused on conducting outreach to students and asked teachers to assist with recruitment efforts. They also worked with Equus to make sufficient virtual and in-person times available for students and contact parents.
As of May 2021, five students have enrolled in the program. For the upcoming 2021-2022 school year, between 15 and 20 students are in the process of applying for the program.
Albert Parrillo, Director of Careers and Technology with CASD, notes several essential conditions that needed to be in place to successfully develop Workforce 101. CASD created a planning committee that communicated frequently with numerous departments in the school and local agencies during the development process. In addition, every stakeholder needed to focus on marketing the program and recruiting students.
Moving forward, CASD plans to continue offering Workforce 101 through SCPa Works. The program is part of the Carlisle High School course selection guide, and CASD is encouraging and recruiting students to sign up in advance. Equus will work with students and their families to complete the TANF paperwork in the summer of 2021 so they can start the workforce education course in the fall.
As of this writing, CASD has not yet collected data on the impact of the program on student career development. CASD plans to gather and analyze that data as it grows the program over the next two years.
Carlisle Area School District
Albert Parrillo, PhD, Director of Careers and Technology