The Weyauwega-Fremont School District is asking area businesses to take a survey as part of its efforts to help students plan for their futures.
“It is critical that we as a school continue to look for partnerships with our community businesses to ensure that we are properly preparing our youth not only for post secondary education but for life in the workforce. There is a lot to gain from businesses and the school if we work together to create more opportunities for our students. We need to expose our students to all options possible,” said Jeremy Schroeder.
Schroeder is the principal of the district’s middle and high schools.
He, along with Guidance Counselor Joann Miller, Agriscience Instructor Sandy Dykes and Connie Abert, of Waupaca County’s UW-Extension office, are meeting to help students be career ready when they graduate from W-F High School.
The survey went out to businesses last week.
Other area businesses interested in participating in the survey may visit http://goo.gl/forms/xwz5HYn5WS to do so.
“This came out of the long-range planning effort of the school district,” Abert said of the plan, which was completed in 2013.
This group is addressing the strategic question: How can we provide opportunities for children to develop skills to match their interests and abilities?
When Miller meets with students and parents, she talks about career clusters.
There are 16 of them.
“Young people in the workforce today will change jobs much more often than their parents and grandparents,” Abert said. “Because of that, it is important for us to think about clusters, to think about where a young person’s interests are and not put them in one specific job for the rest of their life, because then they lose flexibility.”
According to the most recent available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker today stays at each of his or her jobs for 4.4 years, she said.
However, the expected tenure of the workforce’s youngest employees is about half that.
Ninety-one percent of Millennials (born between 1977-1997) expect to stay in a job for less than three years, according to the Future Workplace “Multiple Generations @ Work” survey of 1,189 employees and 150 managers, according to Abert.
That means they would have 15 to 20 jobs over the course of their working lives.
Abert said this is why it is important to help young people find careers, not jobs, so they are to build a broad resume and continue to grow.
She said the W-F School District does so by helping students figure out what they are interested in, what they are good at and then giving them a broad picture of what they can do and where they can go.
Students take assessments to help them get ideas, and during conferences with the students and parents, Miller shares the results with them.
Families learn about how to find information on the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics about career outlooks across the country.
Abert said this helps students get a real picture about the availability of particular jobs, including locally, as well as how much those jobs pay.
That is why the district survey of local businesses is important, she said.
“There are things being done within the school to help them think more critically,” Abert said, “but it can’t just be in school,”
With less than 10 percent of today’s job not requiring some type of training after high school, most students will need some type of training after they graduate to find a job they can live on and support a family on later, she said.
By identifying the interests of students and surveying area businesses, the district will be able to connect the students to local employers.
Students will be exposed to a variety of careers, Abert said.
“Through assessments, we needed to help them see their interests and abilities and then put those pieces together with an increased awareness of the present and future job markets,” she said.
Area businesses will be able to let the young people know of jobs available right here, Abert said.
The assessment piece does not only happen in the office of the guidance counselor.
Middle and high school teachers are also being asked to all talk to their students about career possibilities, to make connections between what they are learning and how they may use that information later on in life.
Abert said counselors, parents and people who work at area businesses all need to be part of this process.
“When we get the information back from the local businesses, it will be a resource to connect students,” she said. “We’d like people to return the information within a week or two.”
The career cluster discussion includes talking to students about the kind of education which will support them and where they can go in the community to help them decide if that is really what they want to do, she said.
Career planning is a school-wide effort, and Abert said schools cannot do it alone.
“A lot of learning takes place inside, but a lot of learning takes place outside the classroom,” she said.