RUTLAND—The Rutland Region Workforce Investment Board (RRWIB) in collaboration with the Rutland Economic Development Corporation (REDC) recently announced Real Careers @ Rutland County, a pilot program funded through the Vermont Department of Labor.
The program will engage high school seniors and recent graduates in training and education for locally available jobs.
While on graduation night more than 90 percent of our high school seniors say they will be going on to college in the fall, statistics from an Agency of Education report titled “Vermont High School Graduates Postsecondary Enrollment Rate” indicate that six years later nearly two-thirds will not have a post-secondary degree. Immediately going from high school to college is not the pathway to a career for all of our young people.
Businesses throughout the region, spanning multiple industry sectors, report that they are having trouble filling well-paying positions in their companies, firms, and organizations. Teresa Miele, president of the Rutland RRWIB, sees a connection. “With training, the two-thirds of our high school graduates who do not go on to college or leave college before obtaining a diploma, will become our strong local workforce.”
Real Careers @ Rutland County will provide job coaching and job-specific roadmaps that clearly delineate pathways for training leading to employment in Rutland County. The pilot program will be launched in two area high schools, Mill River Union High School and Otter Valley Union High School, and to recent graduates in Rutland County who have not yet chosen a career path.
Job coaching and planning will begin in the senior year of high school and will continue for one year following graduation as participants engage in job-specific trainings and enter the workforce. Recent graduates may access the program through the local offices of the Department of Labor and Vocational Rehabilitation or by contacting the RRWIB directly at rrwib.org/contact.
Based on the reported needs of our local employers, Real Careers will begin by developing career-specific roadmaps in manufacturing, health care, construction trades, commercial driving, and adventure-based recreation and tourism while undertaking research to identify additional industry sectors with unmet employment needs.
Each participant will identify a specific career path and have a specific plan to obtain requisite skills for entering employment. The plan will include applications to training programs, cost analyses, identified funding sources, pre-employment skills training, and internships. Instruction will include a focus on transferable skills that reach across industry sectors and are critical in all work and community settings.
The goal, says Lyle Jepson, executive director of REDC, “is to create a pipeline to competitive jobs in our region and career growth opportunities.”
Don Markie, community engagement coordinator at Mill River Union High School, observed, “If a senior hasn’t taken SATs or submitted college applications, and if they don’t have a clear idea about how to pay for college, they likely will not be attending in the fall. We aim to get these students started in a career where they will earn money and continually gain skills.”
Participants may receive college credit for trainings and may find jobs with employers willing to help share the cost of further education and training including college.
Jim Avery, principal at Otter Valley Union High School, noted, “Real Careers doesn’t eliminate college, for some it will provide a completely alternative training track but for others it will present a realistic and affordable way to pursue a college degree.”
Other key partners in Real Careers include Stafford Technical Center and the Community College of Vermont. These education providers will work with the RRWIB and REDC to develop and deliver new training opportunities to meet employer needs.
Wendy Morse, Rutland DOL district manager, commented, “The Vermont Department of Labor’s financial grant award supporting Real Careers @Rutland County compliments strategies that have the potential to impact Vermont’s labor force participation rate in a positive way. The Rutland AJC office is excited to collaborate with partners in the greater Rutland community on behalf of this innovative project.”