Federal program links students to career learning

Grant program will help engage students in STEM careers

career-STEM-coursesPresident Obama on Nov. 19 unveiled a new grant program designed to help U.S. students understand and develop the skills they will need to be successful in college and the workforce.

The Youth CareerConnect Grants program, a joint effort between the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Labor Department, will use $100 million in funding to help school districts, institutions of higher education, and other partners bring evidence-based high school models to scale.

Experts say that many high school students fail to develop skills that help them relate their classroom education to what they learn in college, during apprenticeships or technical education, or in careers.

(Connect on Twitter with the hashtag #eSNSTEMNext page: What will the program focus on?)

Offering real-world applications is especially important in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, especially as students in other countries continue to demonstrate STEM mastery and offer more competition for U.S. students in a global workforce.

“Education plus engagement equals economic success,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia.

Wise said the program has the potential to reduce high school dropout rates and engage students in education–including STEM education–by showing them how their academic studies relate to real-world careers and opportunities.

“Today, there are 3.9 million jobs going unfilled because employers cannot find applicants with the education and skills needed to fill them. Education is the solution to this problem. The Youth CareerConnect program can help to ensure that all children receive the education they deserve and the experience the nation’s job market demands,” he added.

The program has a number of focus areas, including:

  • Integrated Academic and Career-Focused Learning: Grants will give students access to education and training that combines academic and career-focused curriculum to increase students’ employability.
  • Work-Based Learning and Exposure to the World of Work: Strong partnerships will connect students with work-based learning opportunities, work experience, field trips, and more.
  • Robust Employer Engagement: Employer partners will provide work-based learning and mentoring so that students can move into STEM fields with adequate support.

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Laura Ascione

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