In 2018, the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation launched their OptIN program. OptIN is a K-12 Workforce Development program that presents students with an opportunity to engage, explore and experience relevant and experiential career opportunities during their high school journey. The program is a unique blend of work-based learning, traditional education and student exploration.
Over the past three years, residents across the United States have experienced an evolution of their careers, ways of life, public health and so much more. As student debt increases and the institutional knowledge of the generation before begins to leave the workforce, meaningful career paths have become ever more relevant.
EVSC and OptIN are at the leading edge of addressing this educational opportunity. Most recently, EVSC was awarded $100K to advance Modern Youth Apprenticeships (MYA) for students across our communities. These funds were awarded by the Ascend Indiana Network. Ascend is an organization based out of Central Indiana that is committed to building a stronger, more vibrant, and effective workforce ecosystem across our state. Modern Youth Apprenticeship is one way they are accomplishing these goals.
Ascend is an organization based out of Central Indiana that is committed to building a stronger, more vibrant and effective workforce ecosystem across our state. Modern Youth Apprenticeship is one way they are accomplishing these goals.
So, what’s a Youth Apprenticeship? You might recall or remember your parent, grandparent or relative who decided to take on an apprenticeship through a union or trade association. This could have been anything from a millwright to an electrician. Well… MYA is only slightly different.
MYA takes the best aspects of a traditional apprenticeship (the hands-on experience, the hours of training and partnerships with experienced mentors) and combines that with the economy of today and for the future. What this means is that MYA allows high school students to explore and experience a career path into almost any sector of industry while in high school through a deep “hands-on” approach. MYA also includes courses that are directly linked to college credit. In the past apprenticeship, co-ops or other workforce programs in high school might mean that a student wouldn’t continue for additional education. MYA provides a pathway that gives the students options.
Question: What makes EVSC and this region different? Why were we only 1 of 3 schools? How will this impact the students and the future of education?
Answer: B.J. Watts (Executive Director of Opt-In)
This region and the EVSC are exceptional at working together. The EVSC, via OptIN, will continue to collaborate with employers to ensure our workforce development plan has a positive ROI for both the student and the industry partner. That means the programs created are not about finding a job. The goal is to pair student passions and abilities with career opportunities experiences across our region. This will ensure our students have made an informed decision about their future.
The EVSC was 1 of 3 school systems in Indiana selected to serve as an accelerator site for MYA. Our selection was based on the EVSC’s commitment to best practice research, deep community and employer engagement, and our commitment to building a system and process that is sustainable for years to come.
MYA’s impact will change the way we think about education. Students will have the opportunity to graduate from high school with college credit, an industry recognized credential, and real hands-on experience that will prepare them to enter the workforce directly or continue with postsecondary education.
MYA can reshape what the high school experience looks like. For decades we have measured success in high school with a diploma MYA will create a system and process that measures student success by the skills they have acquired and their readiness for sustained high wage employment and upward mobility.
Over the course of the next month, EVSC will launch its first MYA in our region in the following sectors: Advanced Manufacturing, Health and Life Sciences, and Education. As you look at our regional economy, Manufacturing and Health care make up more than half of the career opportunities, and these apprenticeships will serve to work with the employer community and create meaningful careers for students.
In a world where careers are a pathway to a thriving life for students and jobs are a means to an end, MYA creates an equitable while still rigorous option for students.
- More than one-fourth of college graduates say that their degree has nothing to do with the career they’re in.
- Less than half of those that pursue postsecondary education persist through graduation.
- Indiana employers shared that up to 74% of job openenings were left vacant due to under-qualified candidates.
These statistics show why EVSC has taken such a proactive approach to building a stronger workforce for our region.
We look forward to watching the progress, innovation and opportunity that is ignited through Modern Youth Apprenticeship.