Students in three high schools are preparing themselves for successful careers through the Ready to Work program, a new career technical education elective course that launched this year in the Shelby County School District.
According to Julie Godfrey, Supervisor of Career Technical Education, College and Career Planning, and Community Partnerships, the Ready to Work program will be offered at Vincent High School, Montevallo High School, and Shelby County High School. Kickoff events were held at each school this week, giving students enrolled in the program an opportunity to learn more and hear directly from business partners.
Ready to Work is an employer-led initiative that creates a career pathway for high school seniors and builds a local talent pipeline for industries. Shelby County Schools is working with the Ōnin Group, a Birmingham-based staffing organization, and AIDT, a workforce development training agency, to provide the curriculum for the course. Students take part in a year-long course that ends with six weeks of AIDT’s Ready To Work soft skills training, problem-solving and various work-readiness skills. The rest of the course covers industry-specific content that is designed by local employers to meet real, local hiring needs.
Joining the Onin Group and AIDT as local partners specifically in the Shelby County partnership are The Shelby County Chamber of Commerce and 58 Inc. A large number of businesses and industry partners are also involved in providing students with real-world exposure to jobs and apprenticeship opportunities.
“Ready to Work includes an essential skills component to help students be prepared for life, as well as exposure to all 16 career clusters where they get the chance to interact with businesses,” Godfrey said. “Students will also have scheduled industry tours with select businesses so they can be introduced to varied experiences.”
Each industry week creates a work world for the students to step into and explore. Upon successful completion of the high school Ready to Work program, students receive a National Career Readiness Certificate and an Alabama Certified Worker Certificate. Students can also earn a free college course at any community college in our state. Students can also earn a free college course at any community college in our state. With a job placement percentage close to 90 percent, this program has successfully created career opportunities for students in other Alabama school districts.
“I think this is just the beginning and I’m looking forward to expanding it,” Godfrey said. “There are so many businesses involved in this program and they showed up in a big way at each school kickoff event.”
Godfrey said the Ready to Work course is a good option for all students, whether they plan to attend college or enter the workforce. In some cases, the prospective jobs will require some post-secondary course-work, but the advantage for Ready to Work students is that their employer is willing to pay for it.
“In some cases, they will be entering into agreements with companies where two-year college courses are paid for while they are also working and earning an income,” Godfrey explained.
“I wish every senior student had the opportunity to take this class for the exposure and opportunities it will bring,” she continued. “The goal at the end of the class is for them to be ready to work and to connect them with careers, apprenticeships, and training. Many will be offered jobs at the end of this program.”
Businesses involved in the program include Sysco, Process Barron, Lhoist, Cahaba Maintenance and Construction, Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, America’s First Federal Credit Union, Alabama Career Center in Alabaster, Thompson Tractor, McLeod Software, Specification Rubber Products, Hibbett Sports, AGC Automotive, Summer Classics, MacLean Power, and Iberia Bank. Mayors from the local municipalities where the schools are located are also participating.