Greater Baltimore is building the workforce of tomorrow from the ground up. Through a number of innovative partnerships between local schools, higher education institutions, government and business, students are acquiring hands-on skills that will transition them into the workforce job ready.
Howard County Public Schools (HCPS), for one, offers programs designed to prepare students for success in a number of career fields. Its Partnership Program lets students participate in a host of events and study programs that acquaint them with the world of work. These relationships include career fairs, apprenticeships and job shadowing, as well as paid and unpaid internships and mentoring.
Students Focus on Careers
HCPS also offers career academies in which students take part in a career cluster in areas such as arts, media and communications, business and finance, construction and development, and consumer services.
“Our seniors and juniors are learning skills, working on projects and performing internships in these career areas," says Natalie Belcher, instructional facilitator for Howard County Public Schools. “We are helping students make better decisions when it comes to planning for a future career. We also have a number of employers who will hire some students right out of high school after they have participated in an internship.”
Anne Arundel County Public Schools has more than 900 students completing internships with area employers. The school system has a team of nine full-time internship coordinators who helps ensure internships are working well for both students and employers. The school system also has magnet school and signature programs that help students focus on specific career or education areas. Some of the magnet school specialties include biomedical and allied health, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), and performing and visual arts.
“The school systems signature schools help students connect classroom instruction with real-world situations and work-relevant skills,” says Tammy Diedrich, Anne Arundel's manager of internship and business programs. Baltimore County Public Schools offer programs centered around career research, work-based learning, internships, career and technology education, apprenticeships, and job shadowing. Each is designed to prepare students for the future workforce. The school system also has partnerships with several area colleges and universities to offer students advanced credit opportunities in chosen career areas.
Hire One Youth Program Works
The City of Baltimore has initiated several programs designed to increase employment for adults and youth. One of the most successful programs is the Hire One Youth program, an initiative focused on encouraging area companies to commit to hiring at least one Baltimore youth during the summer as a way to engage young people for the future workforce. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who initiated the Hire One Youth program, says it is one way Baltimore’s private sector plays a significant role in the development of the city’s future workforce.
“With the nation’s unemployment rate for youth at its highest level since World War II, it’s imperative that government, business, nonprofit organizations and communities join together to find innovative solutions to connect our young people to early work experiences, and provide them with the necessary tools to enter the workforce,” Mayor Rawlings-Blake says.
Hire One Youth is administered through the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development. The region offers a number of outstanding colleges and universities that partner with local schools and businesses and offer high-caliber workforce development programs. Hire One Youth is part of Baltimore City's YouthWorks summer jobs program that matches young people between 14 and 21 to five-week work experiences with private-sector, nonprofit, and city and state government employers. The program helps prepare students for the workforce through targeted matching of jobs to older teens' career interests and an emphasis on effective work behaviors and financial literacy.
Colleges and universities partner in other ways to support skills training and career development. Notre Dame of Maryland University's School of Nursing offers bachelor's (traditional BSN and RN-BSN programs) and master’s (nursing administration and nursing education) degrees in nursing. The RN-BSN program is offered both on campus as well as at hospitals and regional educational centers around the state. The school's new Nursing Center for Caring with Technology feature three simulation labs for labor and delivery, pediatrics and patient rooms, as well as observation rooms. Additionally, the School of Nursing has recently entered a collaboration with the Community College of Baltimore County to offer a dual enrollment associate to bachelor's degree program, says Mary Packard, chairwoman of the School of Nursing. Packard says Notre Dame encourages short-term visits by area high school students to learn more about the university and its nursing programs.