Preparing students for tomorrow’s workforce is critical

Published 3:00 am Friday, August 4, 2017

As parents, educators and students gear up to return to the classrooms next week, leaders in the Pike County school system are gearing up to prepare classrooms for the next generation of graduates.

The Pike County Schools broke ground this week on an Advanced Academics and Accelerated Learning Center. The new facility, which is estimated to cost more than $1 million, will serve the district’s Virtual High School, academy programs, credit recovery, accelerated learning and fifth- through ninth-grade STEM initiatives. With classrooms, science labs, computer labs and offices, the facility is designed to accommodate state-of-the-art equipment and teaching methods, while providing room for future growth.

It’s a significant investment for the Pike County Schools and one that is likely to reap benefits for years to come. By crafting alternative learning opportunities for students – from the business and finance academy to the agriculture academy to new academies focused on leadership in flight – educational leaders are seeking ways to engage and educate today’s students and tomorrow’s workers.

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The academy programs are tailored towards doing just that, with most providing a two-year degree in tandem with a high school diploma. The Virtual High School allows for expanded learning opportunities, via online classes, and offers educational opportunities to non-traditional students or those seeking to earn GEDs. Many of today’s students have strong interests in certain subject areas – whether agri-science or aviation – and by tailoring educational courses designed to develop their interests, schools can engage students and give them both the education and the workforce skills they need to be successful.

In 2016, the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies found that nearly half of U.S. employers reported struggling to fill vacant jobs. Moreover, the study predicted that by 2020, the skills gap in America’s workforce would lead to more than 6 million unfilled positions.

That’s why it’s so important that we develop facilities like this new academy and why we continue to develop programs to prepare students for the workforce.