High school students at Tolsia High School in West Virginia have created an industry-validated carpentry business within their classroom. Students at Haynesville Junior/Senior High School in Louisiana are connected with physical therapists, diesel mechanics, a marriage and family counselor and other industry professionals on a biweekly basis through virtual “micro-industry engagements.” In North Dakota, nursing students can earn their associate’s degree through one of four community colleges, while taking their classes at rural hospitals and health care facilities. And in Montana, a mobile laboratory is deployed across the state to engage students around various career opportunities.
These are just some of the strategies states are leveraging to ensure all learners – regardless of geography, transportation barriers or the size or diversity of their local industries – are exposed to the world of work.
To help states identify innovative and scalable strategies for ensuring geography doesn’t limit access to real-world experiences, Advance CTE today released the second in a series of briefs titled CTE on the Frontier: Connecting Rural Learners with the World of Work. (You can read the first brief on program quality here). The brief explores state strategies to expand access to work-based learning, employer engagement and industry-driven pathways for rural learners, drawing on promising practices from the states:
- In West Virginia, Simulated Workplace allows students to transform their classrooms into business and is now available in every school across the state, reaching over 13,000 students.
- Louisiana – as part of its Jump Start CTE initiative – has launched a multi-faceted effort combining technology and hands-on teacher supports to provide rural students with employer engagement, a process the state calls “micro-industry engagement.”
- The Dakota Nursing Program, in North Dakota, leverages existing infrastructure and partnerships to turn health care facilities and hospitals into college classrooms, training over 2,000 health care professionals since its launch.
- Montana is strategically leveraging federal, state and private funds to expand CTE and apprenticeships across the state in health care and other high-demand fields.
While there is no simple solution or silver bullet, states are making important progress and leveraging innovative ways to bring the world of work to learners and provide the necessary resources, technical assistance and supports to ensure local communities can support and sustain those efforts.
CTE on the Frontier: Connecting Rural Learners with the World of Work was developed through the New Skills for Youth initiative, a partnership of the Council of Chief State School Officers, Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group, generously funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Kate Kreamer, Deputy Executive Director