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Working Together to Chart Career Paths

Michael colorHelping students chart their paths to career and life success is not a solo effort. Success comes from strong partnerships and meaningful collaboration. Those student pathways require an intersection of school, industry, family, and community.

That’s why ERCA and the Student Research Foundation are so focused on their partnerships and the relationships that assist today’s students see a better tomorrow. Only through multiple perspectives and multiple actions can we truly help all young people better understand their interests, passions, and possibilities.

Earlier this month, the Hope Street Group spoke with the Student Research Foundation’s Michael Conn about this important mission and of specific activities on student’s STEM (science-technology-engineering-math) and health career possibilities. In this interview, Dr. Conn reflected on a recent study conducted by the Manufacturing Institute, SkillsUSA, and ERCA on career and technical education, noting:

There’s been a crying need among groups like the Manufacturing Institute and SkillsUSA to know more about the student’s point of view on how their current educational experiences are working for them and how that might support their career path going forward. There’s really been a dearth of information about the student’s voice and point of view, and that’s what we were trying to get at in this project. And we’re continuing on actually. We have another wave coming up in the back to school season with a follow-up survey, so we’ll be able to do some comparisons in the future.

One of the key findings, and one of the surprising things to me, was how students’ own interests and experiences popped up to the top when we asked them to indicate from a check off list which of the following were influences on their future career pathway. It was the highest by almost two-thirds and the interpretation through conversations with the Manufacturing Institute and SkillsUSA was that it really reinforced the importance of working directly with students to offer them experiences that help them formulate what they might be good at, and want to do, and to understand what would be required of them in the workforce.

These are important lessons, both for the CTE community and the entire education landscape.

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