Secondary schools and higher education institutions help build Oshkosh’s workforce and keep it growing strong
A ready and highly skilled workforce is key to Oshkosh’s economic success, and fortunately the area has strong partnerships between educational institutions and the business community ensuring students get the training they need for in-demand careers.
A+ Public Schools
The Oshkosh Area School District’s rigorous curriculum takes a whole child approach to ensure that all students graduate “college, career and community ready.” Career exploration opportunities are integrated into classes K-12, with an emphasis in grades 8, 11 and 12. Students begin learning life and career skills starting in kindergarten, with instruction and feedback focusing on flexibility and adaptability; initiative and self direction; social and cultural skills; productivity and accountability; and leadership and responsibility.
“One way we help students and their families navigate career options is through the our 16 career clusters that lead directly to career pathways. Students are exposed to career clusters at an early age and are encouraged to explore their interests,â€ says Julie Conrad, director of curriculum and assessment for the Oshkosh Area School District. “These clusters help students determine which courses to take during their high school career and help identify which post-secondary option is best for after graduation.”
The district also partners with Fox Valley Technical College to provide dual-credit courses. Eligible juniors and seniors are able to take courses that earn them both high school and college credit concurrently or advanced standing in a FVTC program.
STEM in Private Education
In addition to a strong public school system, Oshkosh has excellent private school options in Valley Christian School and Lourdes Academy – both enrolling preK-12 and both participating in the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program, which allows qualifying students to attend the schools tuition-free.
Valley Christian offers university-level courses that can be taken for dual high school and college credit, and Lourdes Academy offers a comprehensive STEM program to address the changing needs of the workforce and to ensure students have the skills needed to succeed in a global economy.
“We want to give students every opportunity to explore career options before making their college decisions,â€ says Lourdes Academy president John Dinegan. “Our business community and alumni have been instrumental in that process. Their willingness to share their time, expertise and experiences have helped students hone in on their career path before graduation, which saves time and money once they enroll in college.”
Top Skills Player
At Fox Valley Technical College, students have access to the latest technologies that employers are using so they can hit the ground running after graduation. Even before graduation, FVTC students often land internships that turn into careers.
“Our close ties to the needs of regional employers pay dividends for their skill needs by way of an impressive 95 percent collegewide graduate employment rate,” says FVTC spokesperson Chris Jossart. “Based on our most recent reporting data, a record 70 academic programs produced 100 percent graduate employment, reaffirming the college’s agility in responding to the changing needs of today’s workforce.”
Jossart says the college also trains some 23,000 employees each year through FVTC Business & Industry Services, making the college one of the leaders in workforce development initiatives in Wisconsin.
Readying for Success
At the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, undergraduate students participate in a general education program that helps prepare them for the challenges of work. Students also have access to career information, advice and occupational guidance at the university’s career and professional development department. The department offers a variety of services to help students be successful when searching for jobs such as Career Fair on the Fox, internship fairs, resume and LinkedIn reviews, and the Career Closet, which ensures students are best dressed for professional opportunities.
“At UW Oshkosh, we understand that we are responsible to prepare the next generation of workers and that our current faculty and staff can be a great resource for research, consulting, professional development and collaboration,â€ says Provost John Koker. “We combine a broad-based education that emphases communication, problem solving, critical thinking and technical skills with a focused specialized area. We include internships, co-ops, clinicals, practicums and service learning so students can move beyond classroom walls to be prepared to enter the workforce.”