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The U.S. Department of Education and the U.S Department of Labor have jointly sponsored the “school-to-work” program. What are the goals of this program? Describe the three core elements required for all school-to-work programs and describe the implementation of school-to-work programs.
Twenty years ago, the need to connect school and work was less urgent. Young people could finish high school with a minimal education and few skills and expect to enter the same factory where their parents worked. They could anticipate earning a decent, middle-class wage there for most of their working lives. But stable, well-paying jobs that do not require advanced training are going the way of the typewriter (Brunsma, 2006).
Today, the problem is not that our schools perform less well than in the past. In some respects, they are doing even better. More students graduate from high school than at any point in our history. And basic literacy levels are higher for a more diverse group of young people. The problem is that changes in the economy require schools to reach much higher. Schools must ensure that most young people acquire the skills and knowledge once reserved for a few. They must emphasize a whole new set of skills- such as computer expertise and the ability to work in groups- that were never on their agenda. „School” may not even be the best place to teach some skills, such as how to learn in the context of work or how to use the latest high-tech equipment.
One of the solutions was to reach beyond the boundaries of the school by creating a new relationship between schools and employers. Around the country, the first tentative steps have been taken toward this new alliance. It is called „school-to-work” or „school to-career.” „School-to-work” assumes that one purpose of schooling-though not its only purpose–is broad preparation for work. School-to-work systems generally link learning at school and at work to help young people see the connections between the two. The best integrate high-level academic and technical knowledge and teach at least some content in context. They provide young people with career exploration and counseling so they can make more informed decisions about their academic and occupational goals (Koretz, 2007).
School-to-work systems build bridges among high schools, higher education, and the workplace to prepare young people for both careers and college. And they put young people in touch with adult role models who can help ease the shift into adulthood. If properly structured, school-to-work has the potential to give students challenging academic instruction and a foundation for higher education and lifelong learning. It can help prepare workers who can meet the demands of a high-wage, high-skill economy.
The approaches may differ across different schools, yet all share common features. They use exposure to the world of work to motivate young people to learn more rigorous academics. They give young people a better sense of how to take advantage of career opportunities. They foster the work ethics and social skills that employers say they want. And they teach young people how to learn in the context of work, as they will continue to do all their lives (Wokusch, 2005).
Any school-to-work program also is changing the perspectives of employers. Businesspeople are discovering that young people can be productive workers, not just cheap, low-skilled laborers. Employers who train teenagers in the workplace generally are pleased with their students, find them productive, and believe that both sides benefit. Many say they would take part in such efforts again and would recommend them to their peers.
- Brunsma , David L. (2006). The School Uniform Movement and What It Tells Us about American Education: A Symbolic Crusade. NY Random House, pp. 206-208.
- Wokusch, Heather. (2005). The Progressives’ Handbook: Get the Facts and Make a Difference Now, Vol. 1: US Weapons of Mass Destruction, Women’s Issues, Education, Mainstream Media. Wiley and sons press, pp. 207-211.
- Koretz, Daniel. (2007). Measuring Up: What Educational Testing Really Tells Us. McGraw Hill, pp. 200-201.
- Zunker, Vernon (2001). Career Counseling: Applied Concepts of Life Planning, 6th Edition Wadsworth Publishing. https://education.nsw.gov.au/teaching-and-learning/curriculum/career-learning-and-vet/career-learning/school-to-work-program
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