LOS ANGELES, Sept. 24, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Ask managers in almost every industry about their biggest challenges, and "finding and keeping skilled workers" will be at the top of their lists. This is especially true in manufacturing, construction and technology. September's Workforce Development month raises awareness about the importance of exposing young people to job opportunities and helping them get the knowledge and hands-on experience for a career beyond high school.
Learn4Life, a network of nonprofit high school dropout recovery programs, believes job skills training needs to start in high school. "We work with students who have fallen so far behind in school that they're unlikely to graduate. We help them get a diploma for free and work with community partners to provide job skills," explained Miguel-Angel Soria, director of career technical education (CTE). "We have teens who a couple years ago wouldn't have thought they could ever graduate, much less be in a job starting at $30,000+ per year."
One example is a workforce development partnership with Vocademy Makerspace, where Learn4Life students learn skills in 3D printing, robotics, welding, construction, woodworking, machining and design, all while working toward their diploma. Many people equate manufacturing with low-wage assembly-line positions, but the reality is that today's manufacturing jobs have an average pay more than $81k per year. Those jobs require technical skills, which can be just as important as a traditional four-year degree.
All Learn4Life students are enrolled in a robust career readiness program, where they explore pathways to their next phase of education, learn basic computing, and master soft skills like interviewing and resume preparation. "We want our students to always be thinking about the endless opportunities after they graduate and inspire them to explore the possibilities," he added.
Soria points out the importance of workforce development in conjunction with the local community. "We identify the job needs in each region, and work with community colleges and local employers to develop curricula that give students a competitive edge for good-paying jobs that exist right in their own backyard."
Through its Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) exclusive partners, the learning centers can accept students up to 24 years old, which means tens of thousands of kids who have aged out of traditional high school have hope for a bright future.
"We're proud to say that we've been able to rebuild these students' confidence and guide them to their true passion while contributing to a skilled workforce," Soria added. Meet some teens who are finding a passion for school and a potential career in this video.
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