Greatra Mayana

Career & Employment Opportunities

Are Career Pathways the Answer?

Good afternoon. Audience: Hi. A little weak, but it was a good
lunch, so we’ll try not to have people going to sleep here. It’s really a
pleasure to be here today. I was questioning Jamie and
Dave over here, their wisdom in inviting me to come and speak. But hopefully, with some of the
background I’ve had, we’ll be able to merge a few thing
together, looking at both education and workforce. Just to give you a little bit
of background on me, I currently teach at Thaddeus Stevens
College of Technology. I’ve also taught at Colorado
State, West Point, and a few other schools. Also, I was a high school
teacher for ten years, math and science. So, I’ve been in the
classroom for quite a while. Also, I was at PDE
for a couple of years. I was running a Workforce
Investment Board for a while, so I’ve been on the L & I
side of things as well. And, I guess, over my 60 years
of doing things, I’ve kind of picked up a few
opinions on things. And so, today, some of this that
I’m going to be sharing with you is, in fact, opinion. Some of it is a case of
where can you get data for certain things? How can you look
at certain things? But also, are we
taking the right path? And, no pun intended here
with the pathways, but it is something, a chance to
kind of look at that. And where do we get the data
that we’re going to use for all of these decisions? The other thing is we have
a bias, quite a bias in the education arena and stuff,
of going to college. Part of that comes from the
fact that all of us teachers and administrators all
went to college. So, of course,
everybody goes to college. And I’m talking a four-year
school, but sometimes we don’t look at some of the two-year
schools and the benefits there, or maybe not going to college at
all, and maybe just picking up some postsecondary. And I will share with you
a video that some of you may have seen. It’s working in the new economy. And if you haven’t seen it
before, it’s a very good video. If you have,
please sit through it. It’s about nine minutes, but it
talks to the idea that, when we talk about postsecondary
education, somehow that got translated into, “Everybody
needs to go to college.” And, I would suggest to you that
that’s something that need to be looked at very hard when you’re
talking about running up a mortgage in order
to find yourself. So I think that’s something
we have to…And we have to be conscious of that, because
individually…I mean, I’ve attended several
schools, degrees and stuff. We all have done that, and
that’s what feels natural and normal for us, and we need
to challenge that idea. Now, in the description of the
presentation, and, again, I’m questioning why they gave me
the big room and so many of you decided to come here. But if you notice in the
description of the presentation, it said, “Ask your
students whether you can use a tape measure.” Did anybody do that? Anybody ask their student? Audience: [inaudible/ faint] Oh, okay. Folks, I had a meeting with
19 HR directors for major manufacturers in Lancaster
County, and I talked to them about the problems they have. And they said, “Fifty percent
of the job applicants can’t pass the drug testing, and some of
them don’t know how to show up on time for work, and
all these kinds of things.” And they said, “But, you know
what really gets us is 90% of the job applicants
can’t read a tape measure.” Now, if you talk about an
indictment on our system…and, by the way, I did some checking,
and reading a ruler is not in the curriculum anymore. It’s not actually a
required thing to teach. So, we don’t teach it, and the
kids aren’t learning it at home. Audience: That’s
the real sad part. Yes. It is. It’s sad. Audience: They have to
use a ruler on the PSSA’s. Yes, but they don’t understand
what the little marks are. And so, when they put it across
here, if it doesn’t say that this is a quarter and this
is an eighth and things. They put it across, and it says,
“It’s 30 and 5 tick marks,” little ones. Audience: Three little lines. Yes. Three little lines. Audience: Little
lines, big lines. Right. I asked a friend of mine who
runs a lumber yard down the road from me, I said,
“Doug, Is this reality?” He goes, “Dale, if you worked
here for a day, you would know that.” Okay? So, we really need to
think about some of this. And, let me back up. One thing on the introduction. It’s truth in advertising. This last year, I was running
an organization, a Workforce Investment Board. We went without funding
for a long period of time. It kind of ticked me off. So, I decided, rather than
sitting back and not doing anything, I decided
to run for office. So, I’m actually running for
office, not that you all need to vote for me or anything like
that, but I’m running for the State House, because I got tired
of the whole funding issue and stuff. So, anyway, just be aware that
that’s in the background there. But that has nothing to do
with this, but just truth in advertising. We need to think about this. HR directors actually have tape
measures in their desk drawers that they pull out and
hand to job applicants. Think about doing
that with your students. Hand them a tape measure, and
see if they can actually use it. At Thaddeus Stevens, the
students can, but that’s a whole different animal there. By the way, those of you from
around, that aren’t maybe local here, from around the
Commonwealth, Thaddeus Stevens is an incredible school,
and it’s open to any citizen of Pennsylvania. And about a 96% placement rate
and very good paying jobs, and the faculty takes it very
seriously about finding those people jobs. So, it’s a great place to look
at for your students, if they’re looking at something,
going into a trade. And, many of the students then
go on to finish their four-year degree, because they want to
be able to run a business. So, most of them, they go into
a trade and stuff, but then they end up starting their own
business and doing quite well. All right. So, we’ve got a lot of options
out there, a lot of options for students. And the question is, how
do we decide to do this? Now, in the European model, they
do some testing around 12-13 years old. And around 13-14 years old, a
lot of times some of the folks go into the apprenticeship
programs, go into more technical studies, and some students go to
the college prep programs, and they kind of divide people up. And it doesn’t mean you have to
stay divided that way, but it kind of does that. Here, that would be considered
tracking or some other nasty word that we don’t use, but it
is something to consider on how do you make a decision, whether
you’re going one direction or another. And, I’ll tell you that
students understand this. They understand it. I was telling somebody earlier,
I had a student once at Thomas Jefferson High School for
Science and Technology, one of the best schools in the country,
and I was teaching there. I was teaching pre-calculus, and
one of my students came up to me, and she was so distraught. She was just so upset, and
I’m like, “What’s wrong?” She says, “Well, I’m going into
AB calculus, not BC calculus. And the smart kids are all
going to BC calculus directly.” And, I’m like, “Okay. We need to back up
just a little bit. You’re going into calculus. This is wonderful. As a junior, you’re
going into AB calculus. This is great!” But she saw herself as a
failure, as an academic failure, because she wasn’t going with
the smart kids into BC calculus, so that she could then
go on to multivariable. Now she was not going to get
multivariable calculus in high school. Geez, you know? Now, calculus is a graduation
requirement at that school. So, everybody does it, but if
you take that to a regular high school, where you’ve got kids
taking Applied Math instead of Algebra 1, because they can’t
really handle it, they know where they stand in the
pecking order of things. They know they’re not
taking the AP classes. They know that, and that has a
real impact on their motivation, on their desire to be there, and
how much they’re actually going to pay attention. And so, some of the things
we do have a negative impact. Okay. There’s a lot
of data out there. This is a data conference,
so I had to have some data. Dave told me I had
to have some data. So, anyway…but this is just
an example of some of the data that’s out there. This is from Lancaster County,
because that’s where I was running the Workforce Investment
Board so it was easy to get. But there’s a plethora of data
out there from your Workforce Investment Board, and there’s a
Workforce Investment Board that covers every part of the state. So, there’s one that covers you. There’s also the CWIA, the
Center for Workforce Information and Analysis, which is part of
labor and industry, and they will provide anybody with data
on what’s going on in an area. So, if you need to know what’s
going on in your area, or you need real, serious data, these
guys can provide it to you. And some of the things here, I
mean we’ve got the size of the population, what percentages
in the labor market, veterans, median income and such, some of
the things that impact people. Okay? Poverty. We don’t fix a whole lot of
things in this country until we fix the poverty. If a kid doesn’t know where he’s
going to live at night, or he doesn’t know where they’re going
to get their next meal, they’re not going to be
real attentive in class. I had a student
once who showed up. He disappeared for about three
days, didn’t come to school. And when he came back, I said,
“Mike, where have you been?” He goes, “Well, Mr. Hamby, I
just got tired of sleeping on the couch. So, I enclosed the porch on our
house, so I made a bedroom out of it.” Now, this guy
was 15 years old. Okay? We don’t usually expect most
15 year olds to be starting carpentry to build their own
bedroom on a house, but that’s the reality of things. So, we really
needed to address that. The other thing here that’s
going to affect whether your students stay here or not, or
come back, is this vacancy rate. In Lancaster County, a rental
property is almost nonexistent. Now, if you’re in an area that
has plenty of rental, that’s great, but in some areas
that’s a real problem. We have these discussions
about minimum wage. And, of course, I don’t think
anybody really wants to live on $7.25 an hour, and that’s not
realistic because nobody pays that little, at least in
Lancaster County, for the most part. We consider $12.50 to be an
acceptable wage for a single individual, not a
family by any means. But when we’re looking at these
low wages, one of the things to consider is how much the subsidy
of that is costing, because if somebody is earning minimum
wage, they’re getting all kinds of resources from the Department
of Human Services that cost all the taxpayers a lot of money. So, again, one of the things
looking at this is how do we get everybody up into a better wage? And one of the ways of doing
that is through education. If they’re working at a
dockworker, they’re not going to make much money. But if they’re running the
forklift, they’re going to be making more. So, how do we get them that
training so they can do that? The other problem we’ve got is a
real challenge here, and that’s because of all of us old folks. And Suzanne and I
were talking earlier. There’s a benefit of getting
older, because it beats the alternative. But there’s a whole
bunch of us going to exit the workforce here. As an example, in Lancaster
County, 90,000 workers are leaving the workforce in the
next ten years, because they’re getting old. They’re going to retire. Okay? And that’s the same way
across the entire state. Pennsylvania is an old state,
and we have to replace these, well, people like me who
are going to get out of the workforce. And, we’ve got to
have a workforce. So, this is not a case of, you
know, necessarily we want the best thing for our kids. Sure, we do, but there’s some
personal interest in this, because if we don’t have that
workforce coming behind us, when everybody starts retiring
there’s nobody left to pay the bills. And so, we really have
to take a look at this. And this is a problem
nationwide, but in Pennsylvania in particular, it’s bad. This, you can’t read. And so, I’ll just describe it
to you, but as opposed to the education world, in the labor
and industry world you deal in industry clusters. You look at what are a cluster
of companies that work in a certain area, and how…Do you
have a critical mass of those industries in your area? And this is important, because
nobody wants to be the only programming at the only firm
that hires programmers within a 50-mile radius, because then
you’re going to work at that one company, and that’s
your only choice. There’s a reason why we have
Silicon Valleys and things like that, because you need
those companies together. Just off of 283, between here
and Lancaster, there’s a thing called Rock Lititz, and Rock
Lititz has started a whole new cluster. And so, companies, I think we’re
up to about 17 companies now that are in there and stuff,
who do everything for live entertainment. So, when you want to take
your…you’ve got a little band, and you want to take it on the
road, and you need lights, and you need a stage, and you need
sound, and you need costumes, and you need everything, you can
go just right there in Lititz and get everything you want. In fact, people from all over
the world come there to do that. And those are jobs
that are STEM jobs. Most of those are STEM jobs. So, they’re good paying jobs. They need some
technical ability. And so, you’re looking for
clusters like that where you can actually get a critical
mass of folks working. Now, the other thing you can
look at…Again, all this data is available through your
Workforce Investment Board. One of the things, this, again,
Lancaster County, this is looking at employment
projections based upon training levels. And, if you’ll notice here,
this is 44% of the jobs expected actually are just
short-term OJT training. Doesn’t require any
college or anything else. Postgraduate degrees, 3.2%. Bachelor’s degrees, about 14%. The sweet spot actually in
Lancaster County is a two-year technical degree. That’s where the real sweet spot
is, because it covers a whole bunch of the areas. But this kind of information
is available to you. And so, when you’re talking to
students, and they say, “Well, I want to go to do whatever,” you
can determine, are they going to be able to come back, or
are they going to have to go somewhere else because
realistically you don’t have those kinds of jobs in your
area, or you don’t have enough to support the type of work? There’s some economic
considerations you want to take into effect, that you
can read these through. In the last one there, Not In My
Back Yard [NIMBY], there’s some industries that you don’t want
around per se necessarily. So, they try to keep
some of those away. But there are folks working on
all of these different things within your community. There’s different organizations. You’ve got a
Chamber of Commerce. You’ve got the Workforce Boards. You’ve got economic
development people. All those folks are working to
try to address some of these considerations when it comes to
having a workforce that meets the needs. Schools also don’t have
to do all this alone. These are some of those
organizations that you can work with. There’s a school district
down in the southern part of Lancaster County,
Octorara School District. They do an absolutely
exceptional job of partnering with companies in the area. They have advisory councils
that are just exemplary. And, when they have folks come
in doing the [inaudible] testing and stuff, they’ve got industry
folks coming in to help, and these guys do a
really bang up job. But when it means is, when the
students are trying to decide, “What do I want to do?” they actually have some idea of
whether they can get a job doing it, and whether it makes sense
for what they want to do. If they want to go into
engineering, Case New Holland up northeast of Lancaster, up in
New Holland area, they’ve got 300 engineers up there
working on R & D for tractors. So, if you’re into farming, and
you like mechanical, there’s an opportunity for you, and
they’re hurting for people. There’s a lot of opportunities,
and these are the kinds of folks that…if a school is not
working with people like this, if all they’re doing is just
working with the colleges or working with the CTC’s,
that’s not going to cut it. You really need to be a partner
with all of the organizations in your area in order
to make that happen. And we’re looking at paths. I mean, right now, we have all
these different pathways that we can take, whether it’s
university, apprenticeship, college, whatever. But how do we get people
directed in that path? How do they make that decision? When I was 18 years old, I was
trying to figure out what I was going to do. I wanted to go into the
military, and so I said, “Well, let’s see. Air Force. No. I don’t have 20/20 vision. So, scratch the Air Force. Navy. No. I don’t swim that well. That’s just no go. Marine Corps?” This was 1973. Forget about it. Okay? That’s way too hardcore. So, I went
into the Army. Okay? Because, at 18, you know
everything, and nothing, and we’re again looking at people
making those decisions. Now, when a lot of us went to
college, the cost of a college education may have been the
cost of a new car today. Today, it’s the cost of a house. And so, the decision somebody
makes can put them in a position where they have some real
problems going forward, real career choices being made,
because they’ve got a huge debt hung around their neck. So, they really need to be going
in…Just to explore and get to know yourself at F&M College is
great, but at $58,000 a year, I hope you find yourself, and hope
you find a good job, because you’re going to have a
lot of debt to pay off. So, it’s one of those things
that it’s a lot more critical now than perhaps it
was at an earlier time. Now, this is just a traditional
career pathway, and it talks about integrated education and
training, career and technical education, industry and employer
engagement, linked data, career counseling and
support services. Okay? So, this is clearly directed
towards the group of individuals who are not
going to college. Okay? These are the folks
who are going to the CTC or going whatever. Everything is oriented
towards career and tech. And one of the things I would
suggest to you is that’s a shortcoming in this whole
career pathways paradigm. What’s the career pathway for
somebody with a history major in college? What’s their career pathway? My daughter was, she got
two degrees in four years. She did a great job. Sociology and
Interpersonal Communications. So, would you really like
fries with that shake? It’s not a…What’s the
career pathway out of there? Now, okay. There is, because with
sociology you can get your Master’s degree. And then, once you get your
Master’s degree, then you may be able to get a
social working job making $24,000 a year. Great. Or, you could just start at
McDonald’s and be done with it. And there’s value in people
doing social work and all that. I’m not minimizing that. But, again, if you’re saddled
with $200,000 in student debt that you cannot get rid of, even
if you declare bankruptcy, you really want to think about what
your career progression is. A friend of mine was telling
me about a friend of his – or a friend of hers, rather. The guy was just getting ready
to finish up his Ph.D., and he works at Target part-time to pay
the bills and stuff while he’s getting his Ph.D. And, when he gets his Ph.D.,
he’ll be moving into a job and he’s very proud of himself, and
he’ll be making $50,000 a year. Well, again, people get
into different things for different reasons. I certainly have done a lot of
different things for different reasons, but if you’re saddled
with a lot of debt that you have to pay off, you do need
to consider the reality. Now, what does one of these
career pathways look like? This is out of Minnesota,
but it’s just a standard construction one. It talks about high
school diploma or GED. Again, clearly, we’re not
talking about the honor students there and stuff, because
we’ve thrown GED in with it. Then, less than one year
spending as a laborer or a drywall installer, and then you
can go get…one to three years, you can move up
into some other things. And you can pick up a Bachelor’s
degree working through the night, and maybe move on to an
advanced degree at some point. But, again, this is clearly
oriented towards – just towards folks in the trades. And I think we’ve got a pretty
good handle on that, but that’s not, if we’re talking career
pathways, we should be talking about everybody’s
career pathways. We shouldn’t just be talking
about the guys who go to the CTC or at the [inaudible]. So, what are you going
to do when you graduate? Where are you going to go? It’s important,
but it’s something to consider. This is kind of what’s been the
traditional job model, probably dating back…Well, the ’50s was
probably more…You start out as a grunt. You’re doing all kinds of work. You move your way up. You get into a white-collar job,
and eventually you become the boss. Even on Wall Street,
this is changing. On Wall Street, they’re finding
that a lot of the Millennials and stuff are like, “Hey, I’m
not going to sit here on this treadmill running around in
circles forever to work my way up this thing, when I have no
idea if the rest of that ramp is even going to be there.” So, people are looking
at it very differently. My father worked for
20 years for a firm. I don’t know of anybody to speak
of who has worked for 20 years for a firm, one firm. It just doesn’t
happen these days. A friend of mine
works for banks. He’s been in banking for 24
year, worked for six different banks because of mergers. It’s a different world out
there on the employment side of things, and you’ve got to have
the skill set to deal with that. So, our job pathway here looks
something more like this, and it’s got a lot of off ramps
and a lot of on ramps. And a lot of those
involve education. But I would challenge you. How many of you are in a
position today that you started out when you graduated from high
school with a career pathway that was going to lead you to
the job that you’re in today? Okay? So, a couple
of lucky people. And, if you’re a teacher, at
least teaching is fairly…You go to college. You go into classroom, and then
maybe you move from classroom into administration. So, there’s a
pathway there doing that. There’s not a real good pathway
if you want to stay in the classroom, although we’re
working on it, I think that’s improving with master teachers
and things coming into play now. But myself, no way. I mean, I bounced
all over the place. I just can’t hold a job. I was a trailing
spouse for 20 years. So, after I retired from the
Army, I trailed my wife for 20 years, and trust me, I knew when
we were moving because I got a really good job offer,
and I knew we were moving. So, things are different today. You really have to figure out
how you’re going to do that for yourself. And we owe that to our students,
all of our students, that they think this through. Because if they think that going
to some college and getting a degree in history, and not
taking away from history, but getting a degree in some
non-technical area and are suddenly going to walk out
into an $80,000 a year job, and people are just going to be
begging them to come work for them, it doesn’t exist. Now, I will tell you I’ve
got people begging for folks graduating out of Stevens with
a degree in electromechanical engineering, or a degree in
metallurgy, or a degree in welding. I mean, literally have people
falling all over themselves trying to hire these guys
because they need them. I’ll give you another example. There’s a manufacturer
in Lancaster County. They make some baked goods items
that you’re all probably very familiar with. They have people working on
their line, on the production line, non-supervisory people,
who, over time, make over six figures a year. They make over $100,000 a
year on the production line. They also start their
people at $22 an hour. They have less than a 1%
turnover rate within the organization. People stay there
for 40 and 50 years. They don’t want to leave. The maintenance guys, when they
hire a maintenance person with electromechanical experience so
they can work on the production line fixing equipment,
they start them at $26 an hour. That’s in the door. So, that’s $50-something,
okay, with a two-year technical. So, there are some really good
jobs out there, and it’s not dirty work. Everybody thinks the factories
and stuff like that are dirty, and there are some. I was down at a foundry down
at the Buck, down in southern Lancaster County,
and it’s dirty. It is dirty. It’s a foundry. Okay? But that’s about the
only one I’ve ever seen. Most of them, you can’t find
a spot of grease anywhere in the place. So, we have jobs and education. Which one are we going to do? And I would suggest to you
these two need to be merged. It shouldn’t be a question
of just jobs or education. It should be together, both. I firmly believe that schools
should have to be accountable for what their graduates do. I think having …How many of
our folks actually got jobs in their career field? What are they making? Those kinds of things,
because when you’re making those decisions, that should
be part of the equation. And there’s some movement to
move in that direction, and I think we just have
to push it forward. One of the things that I
take…and I was here when we rolled out the School
Performance Profile. I know it all too well. I was working for Secretary
Dumaresq at the time, and a great time. But one of the things I take
exception on, on the SPP, is the amount of emphasis placed on
things like AP, IB, college dual enrollment, all these things. Everything is kind of
pushing in that direction. That’s what’s important, and
what you measure is what you get reaction on. So, there’s a built
in bias [inaudible]. So, maybe this is changing. This is an old slide, but this
is the kind of thing that we need to consider. How do we look holistically
at people to see what they’re doing, because, like I said,
right now we’ve got companies that are thinking about moving
out of the area because they can’t find employees. And it’s not folks
coming out of college. It’s folks coming out of a
technical program like a CTC. There is a…This is just a
quick look at…This is earnings minus the median wage of an
employed high school graduate. So, it kind of puts
things in a different frame. And I’m not going to spend a
lot…and the scales don’t mean a whole lot, but what
it’s looking at is your lifetime earning. And there is a cost involved
with some of the education, where you’re giving up earnings
for a while, and you’ve got to earn back before
you get that back. And if you’re in the lower part
of the percentile, you can’t expect to get
that high paying job. Now, at the other end, if you’re
in the upper percentile, yes, there are very
good jobs out there. So, it depends
on where you’re at. To kind of illustrate this a
little differently, college graduates with a Bachelor’s
degree earn nearly twice as much as workers with just
a high school diploma. And, over here, my English
degree has prepared me for an exciting career answering
phones for $9 an hour. So, the reality is
somewhere in between. It’s somewhere in there, but we
need to be able to look at that as what is the career path
that you’re going to take after spending all this
time on high school? And there’s a lot of
marketing in there. There’s a lot of marketing as
to what the advantages are. So, we’ve got some options here,
and let me just suggest to you, this is something that my years
in education and in workforce and stuff, it’s something
that I’ve been thinking about. You know, we have…Most of you
went to college, and if your college said to you, “Look. We have a five-year program
here, and we know you might be able to complete the program in
three years or in four years, but we require all of our
graduates to be here for five years. So, you’ll take some additional
courses, and you’ll improve on your skills, and you’ll do some
writing, and you’ll do some other things and stuff,
in order to complete your five-year requirement.” Now, most of us
would say, “That’s crazy. If I can finish it in three
years, I should finish it and move on, because my time is
valuable,” and yet, we’ve still somewhat locked into this
12 year thing about schools. The student is going to sit
in the seat for 12 years. They’re in a cohort, and they’re
going to be juniors, and they’re going to be seniors, and they’re
going to be there, even though a senior is not doing much in the
senior year, other than playing football or doing whatever,
but they’re done with their coursework for the most part,
but we require them to sit there. I suggest to you one change
might be, why don’t we incentivize students to
actually get out of school? And, when you finish the
requirements, you graduate. And maybe we would give you 12
years or 13 years of education. Use it wisely. If you finish your requirements
for a high school diploma and get your high school diploma in
ten years, you’ve got three more years worth of
schooling paid for. Or if it takes you 13 years,
and you still don’t get your diploma, well, too bad, but
at some point making it on the individual that they
could actually do that. Now, I would suggest to you, the
one fallacy in doing that is it requires the definition of what
a high school graduate is, and I don’t think we have one. I don’t believe we have a
definition anywhere for what a high school graduate is. We say there are standards that
have to be met, but that would suggest to you that, if they
meet those standards, they should graduate, and yet
we keep them in the school. None of the standards include a
requirement for an AP course or a dual enrollment,
and yet we do that. If we’re in manufacturing, if
you were running a company…and I know people don’t like the
analogy between students and products, and I get that, but
bear with me for a second. But if we had a company and we
were making a product, and we did not have a specification
for the end product that we were going to ship,
it would be crazy. It would be absolutely crazy. So, of course, we would
have a specification. We build to that specification. We build the product, and then
we ship the product, and the product goes out into the
marketplace and goes out and does its thing. By not having a definition for
what a high school graduate is, we don’t know when to ship them. And, I just suggest to you, with
the technology we have today, with the data we have today,
with the ability to track where people are at, individualize
IEP’s, all of those kinds of things, why couldn’t a
student graduate early? And, we do it on
exception basis. We do it all the time on
exception basis, but we don’t do as a matter of course. And I think it’s something we
should look at to allow students to move on, and to start
picking that career path a little bit earlier. It causes some problems for
sports, but you can work around that, just like you do with club
sports and things, but I think we have to look at being able
to allow students to have a motivation for
completing their work. If I’m one of those students, if
I’m a 15 year old student, and a 15 year old student knows
everything, if I’m a 15 year old student, and I’m sitting in the
classroom, and I know I’m not taking the AP classes, and I’m
not doing the dual enrollment. I’m in the dummy math, and
I’m in this other stuff, what motivation do I have? I’m going to sit in that seat
for the next three years, regardless of what I do. So, I’m going to do what I need
to do to get by and such, and I’m probably going to learn some
street smarts more than book smarts, and it’s a problem. Whereas if you could turn to
that student and say, “Look. Apply yourself, and if you know
what you want to do, then finish and get out.” I had a young man in my class,
and it was an applied math class down in Florida. Smart kid. Didn’t apply himself real well. He was in applied math versus
basic algebra, but he wanted to be a plumber, and he was working
as an apprentice with a plumber. And the plumber’s deal was, “I’m
not going to hire you unless you get a high school diploma.” So, he was putting in his time,
and that’s all he was doing was putting in his time, passing his
courses, but whatever, because he wanted to be a plumber. He did. He graduated. The next year, he was making
more than most of the teachers in the school, and he’s doing
quite well as a plumber, and he’s doing what he wants to do. Why not facilitate that? Why not help the folks do it? Rather than saying, “Well,
you’ve got to stay in that seat for 12 years. And, oh, by the way, we’ve got
these AP courses and IB courses and college dual enrollment,
because this isn’t just high school. This is college now.” Well, no. It’s a high school. Define what high school is. Define what a high school
product is, and ship it. Forty percent of the students
showing up at colleges today require remediation. Okay? So, the products that are being
shipped are faulty in a lot of respects if they
require remediation. The colleges enroll them because
it’s really good money getting the kids on those
[inaudible] courses. So, they go ahead
and enroll them. The kids aren’t ready, and then
they roll up the debt, and they have problems. So, I suggest to you, if we
instead set a standard, “This is what we prepare them for,” and
then allow them to move on, in whichever direction, they would
have some benefits overall. Moving forward, I would suggest
to you that schools really need to work with all of these folks,
work with the community, the postsecondary, all of those
people that I listed earlier, to really put the students
on a pathway for success. And that’s really what it’s all
about is making sure that the students, the high school
students graduating are on a pathway to success, whether
that pathway takes them through college, it takes them to
a technical school and then college later, takes them to
a technical school and into a career. They’re probably not going to
get by with just what you give them out of high school, but set
them up for that trajectory, and hopefully that will
help them move forward. I appreciate you all staying
in here listening to me. Not too many people bailed. When they offered to let me
speak, I figured, “Well, you know, I ought to at least
put that out there once.” That’s a soapbox
I’ve had for a while. But any questions? Any comments? There’s a lot of
material out there. These are educated
decisions that you can make with the students. You can show a student, you can
get the data and show a student, “Look. This is how many jobs, and this is how much they pay in that career field,
for your specific area.” This is not a
guess or anything else. They can get down to the exact
numbers, and they can tell you how much is projected for in
the coming years, the next five years or the next ten years. So, if a student says, “I really
want to live here in this area, because I love Luzerne County,
and I like being near my family, and I want to go into logging,”
you can tell them exactly how many logging jobs are available. EMSI and a couple other data
sources are available that will tell you that. So, it’s not a guess, and that
may put a sense of reality in some of the students when
they’re saying, “Well, I want to do X,” or, “I want to do Y, and
this is what I need to do it.” “Well, okay. Where do you plan on living? And, if you have to live in
Phili, you’re not going to be living on $30,000 a year. So, you’re going to have to plan
for something making much more.” So, anyway. Any questions? Any comments? Yes, sir? Audience: We spend a lot of time
acknowledging that kids aren’t going to go into the careers
they were necessarily planning for in high school. Yet we use terms like career
pathways instead of career maps. We guide them toward
technical skills rather than transferable skills. At what point do we need to
take a step back and start acknowledging that they’re going
to need a certain toolset, and we instruct them in that,
rather than guiding them down these paths?>>I think you make
a very good point. I think we do need to do that. We talk about one of the
benefits of going to college is you learn how to learn. I know certainly when I did,
that was probably the thing that was most beneficial to me. I learned how to learn,
and I think that’s key. Not to kind of go in the other
direction, I heard a person the other day say that he didn’t
believe in career pathways. He believed in career
superhighways, so even more direct as opposed to it,
but I think it’s a journey. I think it’s a journey, and the
better we can adapt students to realizing that this may be the
direction they want to go, but the way of getting there is
going to be – is going to meander some. And I think to suggest that
pathways, if somebody can figure out what the pathway is that’s
going to be there, number one, and work and such, I
don’t think we’re that good. That said, meandering about and
bouncing around – my daughter who graduated with
those two degrees, great job. She worked a number
of different jobs. She did some social work. She did some other things. Now, at 33 years old, she’s
finally getting a job at Johns Hopkins doing training with high
risk groups, and using some of those skills that she learned,
but that was a long, circuitous route to getting there. And so, I think to tell a
student, “If you do this, this, this, and this, it’s going to
take you to the destination that you want to be at,
“I wouldn’t believe it. I mean, I certainly wouldn’t,
but I hope students would be smart enough not to believe
that, because nobody is that smart. Yes, ma’am? Audience: I think an important
thing for the folks who are in this room from school districts
is the importance of early career exploration. And there is an actual section
of the school code called Chapter 339. It’s only four lines long, but
it requires districts to have career exploration, a strategy
for career exploration K-12, especially in the middle school
years, to help youngsters learn to align their interest with
occupational opportunities so that they can then be ready in
a secondary setting to begin to develop their own career
pathway, whether it’s a CTE or something that ends in
an industry credential. But there’s lots and lots of
resources out there, but school districts are not taking
full advantage of them. And I understand all the
research and issues and all of that, and we don’t yet know how
to staff 339 plans [inaudible] counselors who have
funds, and all of that. But I do think that a keystone,
no pun intended, to being successfully offering career
pathways is helping students think about the occupational
opportunities that align with their interests early enough,
so that they can make plans and pursue pathways, informal
pathways, as well as formal pathways, secondary
and postsecondary. Yes. I think you’re not going to expect
an elementary student to decide that this is exactly the
way to go, but being exposed to different options, realizing
that there are options, is key. And they’re still malleable at
that age, and middle school in particular, they’re
still malleable. I went back and I was involved
in a NASA project, and I went back and talking to
a bunch of students. And students, they really are,
5th grade, 6th grade, they’re very open to a lot of
different ideas, and they want to pursue those. And some of that stuff will sink
in and help them in the years going forward. If you wait until they’re 15,
16 years old, they know how the world works at that point. I mean, I don’t know how many of
you have 15 or 16 year olds, but most of them don’t listen
real well at that age. Okay? You’ve really got to
get them much earlier. So, I agree with
you wholeheartedly. You really need to
start that early. Yes? Audience: If I can piggyback
on what she’s saying. I actually do have two jobs. I’m the PIMS person, but I also
am the computer teacher in our elementary building. And, a couple years ago, we
received a grant in the career pathways sector. So, I actually started in
4th grade, and I do a career exploration, and we
have a checklist. And, it says, “I am neat. I am organized. I am…” whatever the skill is and
they’re all under different career clusters. And I started explaining to them
how, if you have these skills, you can do jobs in this area,
just to open to their mind. There’s a website
and I mean, there are a lot of
excellent tools if people know about them. There are, and you bring up a
really good point about the soft skills. Don’t neglect the soft skills. Again, when I had those 19 HR
directors there with me, aside from being able to read a tape
measure, which was key, but the other thing was, they
said, “You know what? We’ll train them
the technical stuff. They need to be able to
understand basic technology and stuff, but we’re going to
train them on the tech side of the job. We need them to be able
to learn, to be able to communicate, to be able
to play well with others. They need to be able to be part
of a team,” all of those kinds of things. Those are extremely key. And, again, that
needs to start early. They start picking up those
soft skills that they need. And, again, whether that helps
to one pathway or it’s a journey that takes various pathways to
some end, but the soft skills are key. If you can’t play well with
others, you’ve got a real problem in today’s workforce. I mean, you’ve
got a real problem. So, starting early, absolutely. I don’t think we’re expecting
5th graders to decide, “I want to be a metal caster,” and stuff
like that, but they ought to know what that is, and they
ought to see it and see how it works. And that’s where like Octorara
School District has done a great job of bringing companies in to
show and talk to the students, and actually have them
understand what is involved. What does it mean to be
a mechanical engineer? What does it mean to
be a civil engineer? What are those jobs? Because that’s not something
that necessarily you as a teacher would know, unless you
happen to have that training as well. Any other comments? Audience: Sir, I think
you make a great point. I teach in the tech area
at a high school, the [inaudible/faint] program, and
if I could say to the students when they came into 9th grade,
“Here’s a list of skills that you have to do if you want to go
on from my program and become a welder.” And if they can achieve all
those skills, both the soft skills as well as the technical
skills, by the end of the 11th grade and be on their way, I
think that would be a tremendous motivator for these kids,
because right now they’re in the mindset, “Okay. I’m going to be in
here for four years. I’m going to put my time in. I’m going to do
what I’ve got to do. I’ve got to go to the math class
and [inaudible] math class, and that’s how I’m going to do it. And I’m going to have as
much fun while I’m doing it. If that irritates the teacher,
no, that doesn’t really matter to me because I’m
going to have a good time.” But if we could
say to them, “Okay. This is what you’ve got to do
if you’re going to get out,” I think that would make
a world of difference. And, there is…within industry,
a lot of companies now have career pathways, if you will. But when you walk in as a new
hire at a number of companies, and I’ve seen these documents,
and they hand the new employee a document that says, “You’re
going to be at this level, for this amount of time. These are the skills
that you need to know. If you want to move up to the
next level, and this is the pay at the next level, these are
the skills you need to know. Here’s the timeline we’re
thinking that that ought to be the case.” That goes all the way up to
somebody that’s with the company for 20 years. So, when they walk in, they have
a pretty good feel for what the expectation is, and if they
want to go faster and make more money, they can do that, or
they can move right along. And people kind of settle in
where they want to settle in. But that’s the reality out in
the workplace now is it’s being defined for people. It’s not just the boss saying
when you’re going to get a promotion, at least
that’s the good companies. Good companies do that. Audience: It has to go hand in
hand with what we’re talking about as far as
career exploration, too. You don’t want them walking
out the door, going to become a welder, and the first day on
the job say, “I hate this.”>>Yes. You really need to
experience that. Yes. And I’ve seen that happen
unfortunately a few times. Yes. I actually had a relative on my wife’s side
who went all the way through nursing training and
stuff like that, and spent a whole lot of money and effort
and everything like that, and then said, “You know, I don’t
like these sick people.” Could you have figured
that out a few years ago? Anyway, thank you
very much, folks. I hope you got
something out of this.

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