Jobs 253 work-based learning and credentialed opportunities aim to bridge the gap for students who may not have supportive pathways or resources after graduation.
From Environmental Services to Merchant Mariners to the Wildland Fire program, learners gain hands-on experiences in high-demand industries.
Imagine training to fight a forest fire, running a deep sea water rescue, or operating heavy machinery like a forklift and receiving the industry credentials needed to obtain employment once training is completed – all while in high school. These are the fully immersed learning opportunities readily available to roughly 400 Tacoma Public Schools (TPS) learners this summer.
Since September of 2022 and in partnership with over 50 local and regional industry leaders including the City of Tacoma, Metro Parks Tacoma, the Asia Pacific Cultural Center, Tacoma Housing Authority, and more, TPS has delivered over 1,200 learner experiences leading to industry-recognized certifications, job opportunities, and post-school support to help students transition into the workforce. Each student participant also earns a stipend and receives credit towards high school graduation.
In its 11th year, Jobs 253 work-based learning and credentialed opportunities aim to bridge the gap for students who may not have supportive pathways or resources after graduation. By providing certifications, knowledge, experience, and connections, the summer programming aims to set students up for success in the adult world and help them secure livable wages and high-demand careers in industries that have immediate openings and lack a solid workforce.
From Environmental Services to Merchant Mariners to the Wildland Fire program, learners gain hands-on experiences in high-demand industries. Within Jobs 253, participants also earn their Financial Literacy Credential through a partnership with Everfi.
“We are creating more diverse opportunities” shares Christopher Chase, CTE Innovative Coordinator at TPS. “We want to make sure that we’re not only looking at in-demand, high skill, livable wage career paths but [opportunities] even outside of skilled and technical skills trades.”
TPS not only provides its high school learners with pathways to productive citizenship, high-wage employment and economic mobility, and a purpose-driven life, it drives collaboration, social capital, and a sense of belonging with their peers.
“We have a beautifully diverse community of learners, with a wide variety of backgrounds from 11 high schools,” said Jeff Klancke, CTE Instructional Facilitator at TPS. “We’re getting kids from all over the district coming together. They don’t know each other. They’re all quiet on day one. Quickly the experience is established and the camaraderie begins.”
For Jordan B., a high school senior, the Drones program will help him get a foot in the door in the ever-growing industry of media.
“I was initially drawn to the drone certification program due to my interest in photography and video work in the field of journalism,” shared Jordan. “I really enjoyed the class and took a lot of interest in the map reading portions of the program. Not only were we learning some highly in-depth information made for professionals but I was having a blast doing it.”
By the end of the program, Jordan passed the FAA certification test. “With this certification, I now have an additional asset to put on my resume but also understand the law of airspace and how to stay safe.”
The Path Forward
Through continued partnerships with the city and local businesses, Tacoma Public Schools plans to continue diversifying its offerings to provide even more exposure, experiences, and industry visits for their current and post-high school learners.
“We’re invested in keeping youth safe and we’re investing in keeping youth engaged,” said Chase. “We do this because it gives students outlets and a way that they can grow, gain credentials, and learn something new with a place of being.”
Learn more about the Tacoma Public Schools Summer Programming and how it’s impacting its learners here.
If you’d like to join in on the New Pathways conversation, register your team’s key stakeholders for the October 19-20 New Pathways Convening in Tacoma, WA, visit the registration page here. Have questions about the event? Send them to [email protected].