Sometimes the things that make the most sense are never realized. And then again, sometimes they are. A statewide, work-based learning intermediary network makes sense and the Iowa legislature awarded $1.45 million for the development of such networks in each of Iowa's 15 community college districts.
So at this point some of you may be saying to yourselves, "Great, more tax dollars going to special interest groups." Not this time. The networks will prepare students (you or your sons, daughters and grandkids) for the workforce by connecting them to businesses to experience real-world careers of their interest. Particular attention will be given to STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) occupations.
Iowa Valley Community College District has titled its network Youth Career Connections, which really means connecting youth to professionals.
Very few of us knew what we wanted as a career right out of high school. Often it's a great teacher in a certain subject area, or possibly our parents' influence, that shapes and directs our decisions related to what we want to be "when we grow up." My high school accounting teacher was great and I enjoyed the homework, so decided I wanted to be an accountant. If only I had done a job shadow or internship to really find out what an accountant does, I would have saved myself money, time, and numerous headaches.
As part of Iowa Valley's new Youth Career Connections network, Lizette Aguero, our network specialist, will provide the following work-based learning activities to students and teachers:
Job shadowing and internships
Career class speakers
Business etiquette/mock interviews
STEM-related career choices
Job shadows can meet one-on-one or in small groups with business people to become familiar with local careers. Internships allow students to gain work experience and help determine if a particular career is right for them. We can bring the world of work to your school or bring your class to the world of work. Career class speakers, worksite tours, and career fairs are opportunities to hear directly from local business people about their career path and needed workplace skills.
Lizette and I have begun reaching out to area schools and businesses to begin the connection process. If you have ideas for workplace connections in your local area please give us a call at 641-752-4645. We look forward to creating a seamless connection with our business and school partners!
Sandy Supianoski is the employer relations supervisors of Iowa Valley Continuing Education.