Working with the Ventura County Office of Education, all three Ventura County community colleges and six other school districts, the Simi Valley Unified School District will participate in Ventura County Innovates, a grant-funded project supporting career-technical education.
About $1.3 million of a $13.5 million Career-Technical Education (CTE) grant will benefit Simi’s four high schools and the Adult School over the next three years.
Funded by the state of California through the $250 million Careers Pathway Trust, the CTE grant helps create work-based learning efforts in K-12, community college and adult school programs and courses. The grant also requires collaboration between businesses, organizations and education for the purpose of developing career opportunities for participating students. The end result of all of this is to foster local economies.
One of the grant’s main goals is for students interested in a specific career to be nurtured through the process from school, to college and on into their career. The courses and partnerships created between educators and business leaders to further this goal are called career pathways.
VCOE leaders worked with the school districts, community college districts and many other county education and business officials to identify 15 county industries suitable for merging workforce needs with educational programming. Examples include arts, media and entertainment; health science and medical technology; manufacturing and product development; building and construction trades; and public services. Altogether, Simi will cover some or all aspects of 11 industries participating in VC Innovates.
These industries already have a strong presence in Ventura County and show the likelihood of continued growth over the next decade. The grant’s writers looked at existing career-tech programs in the participating districts and divided the programs into three themes. The first are educational programs that are already in place and can serve a specific industry, but which could benefit from better integration with businesses. The second are partial educational programs that lack the collaboration or needed curriculum to support industry opportunities fully. The third are potential programs that don’t exist but should to complement regional industry needs and growth.
These three themes become the phases over the next three years that the CTE grant’s money funds to improve. The money will pay for staff training, equipment purchases, field trips, coordinators to develop partnerships with participating businesses, and project managers.
So what does all of this look like for students?
Let’s say a student shows an interest in a career in nursing. At the middle school level, courses are being created to support a student’s interest in health sciences as he or she moves into high school. Once in high school, health science teachers will be trained to provide related instruction in nursing, while still accommodating curriculum requirements. Labs will be equipped with needed tools and supplies to support health science instruction. Local medical businesses–hospitals, doctors, labs–will partner with VC Innovates to offer internships, job shadowing, speakers and more in order to give students direct access to their area of interest. High school students deciding to move forward with their career goals will have specialized training available through Ventura County community colleges and possibly with area universities as the program develops, and the training is designed to build upon all the student learned in high school. The community colleges are also working with the local health community to offer the skills and training needed by students for potential of future employment. All of this completes a comprehensive cycle of quality education for those students with a dedicated career focus.
For more information about the CTE grant and VC Innovates as it relates to Simi Valley schools, contact Dr. Pam Castleman after July 20 at firstname.lastname@example.org.