More than 36 years ago, the president of Central Washington University began facilitating meetings to bring business and education leaders together. Even at that time, there was a consensus that students were not graduating with the necessary skills employers were seeking. Eventually, these gatherings spurred the Association of Washington Business (AWB) to form Washington Business Week (WBW)—a single summer session that brings 225 high school students together to learn the necessary skills to succeed in the workforce.
How does an organization serve its community’s children and create lifelong engaged citizens, utilizing what is already available? Look no further than Joplin, Missouri. Joplin Bright Futures is a program committed to alleviating the high school dropout rate in Joplin schools through various partnerships in the community. Even prior to the devastating tornado that hit on May 22, 2011, Joplin depended on its business community for their engagement in the school system.
ACT, one of the largest educational testing 501(c)(3) organizations in the United States, has propelled its mission to advance education and workplace success to a new level with Certified Work Ready Communities (CWRC). CWRC is a community-based workforce development implementation framework and certificate program that empowers counties and states with actionable data and specific workforce goals. Participating states are leveraging the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), an industry recognized credential issued by ACT that identifies an individual’s skills in reading for information, applied math, and locating information. Aimed to drive economic growth, over 1.2 million certificates have been awarded since the NCRC’s inception in 2006, the majority of which have been earned in the last two years.
Joe Kitterman, founder of 180Skills LLC, recognizes that in technical education, mastery of skills counts for significantly more than time spent in the classroom. Kitterman theorizes that understanding seventy or eighty percent of the material is not enough when the quality of a product, such as an airplane, and safety are at risk. 180Skills, a content development company, applies that theory by providing a competency-based learning community through self-paced, online learning. Students learn at their own speed, demonstrate proficiency of a skill or device before proceeding, and subsequently apply their online training to on-site, hands-on laboratory instruction.