Students in York County schools can look forward to a new strategic plan from the county that will help them learn on-the-job skills as a part of a new proposed mentorship program.
“The division is working with our business partners on the advisory council to create a robust list of contacts who can help support career awareness and career experience opportunities for (York County School Division) students,” said Katherine Goff, spokeswoman for YCSD.
Students currently have the opportunity to participate in the mentor and internship program, but there are only about 25 percent of students involved. By the year 2022, the division hopes to make this number 100 percent.
At the Dec. 3 meeting of the York County School Board, members were presented with this strategic plan with the goal of instilling workplace skills and career path interests in students.
This objective was developed as part of the division’s strategic plan and the Virginia Department of Education’s profile of a Virginia Graduate, Goff said. The profile states that a Virginia graduate must have the appropriate academic and technical knowledge, the ability to use productive workplaces skills, qualities and behaviors, build connections through community engagement and utilize skills and interests with potential career opportunities.
“Another important benefit of these experiences is that students are not only getting exposure to a career that interests them, they might also determine this is not a job they want to pursue,” said Karen Cagle, associate director of technology innovation and education, during the meeting.
At the moment, nearly half of the students doing mentorships and internships are in the career mentorship class, which is offered to students in 11th and 12th grade, Cagle said. These students are completing 140 hours a semester with a mentor on a work site where they’re expected to demonstrate a positive work ethic.
The top career categories that students were interested in were health science, education and training, and business and administration. The division is working on a business advisory council which Goff said will hopefully help create 16 different career clusters from which students can choose.
Students at the Governor’s School who are participating in internships also have the ability to self-select their mentor, Goff said. By having a business advisory board, the division hopes to give all students this flexibility in options.
But the division wants to take one more step by not only helping students become engaged in workplace activities, but recognizing those already involved.
“One proposal presented to the board…would give high school students, who already have a job, the opportunity to earn high school credit for demonstrating workplace readiness skills in the real world setting,” Goff said. “If approved by the board, staff will develop criteria, requirements, and processes for earning credit through this course description.”
The details regarding how work credit would be applied to a student’s academic transcript are still in discussion and will be fleshed out once the proposed course is approved by the School Board, Goff said.
The School Board will continuously update the progress of the project throughout the year.