Career-Oriented Training Programs Get $244 Million in California


California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson has awarded $244 million in grants to 40 programs throughout the state that have shown the ability to combine academic and career technical education and train students for jobs in high-demand fields through various employers, including those in the fields of health care and information technologies.

Torlakson made the announcement at a Silicon Valley technical education center that is planning on using their $6 million grant to increase offerings for high school students by expanding courses in cyber security, computer coding and drone programming, writes Pat Maio for The San Diego Union-Tribune.

“My top priority is to better prepare California students for college and careers in the 21st century,” Torlakson said. “Career Pathways provides vital support for innovative, practical, and effective career tech programs that keep students engaged in school and prepared for real-world jobs.”

Of the awards handed out, $15 million, one of the largest amounts, went to a partnership between the Galt Joint Union High School District south of Sacramento, three community colleges and three state universities. The consortium intends to use the funds to help pay for new agriculture-oriented science classes, as well as training in the areas of construction, plumbing, metal fabrication and ornamental horticulture.

The California Career Pathways Trust (CCPT) program, the largest program in the nation, offers the grants. Around $500 million in career tech grants have already been awarded over the last two years.

The new grants come on top of an additional $250 million awarded last year to similar career education partnerships. Governor Jerry Brown would like to see another $900 million invested over the next three years.

Career-themed programs have existed in high schools across the state for almost 40 years. Many of the programs are designed to offer students a way to stay focused on completing their high school careers through content offered in a variety of fields, including law, biotechnology and communications. The hope is to have students come away feeling as if their studies can be applied to real-world situations.

Gary Hoachlander, president of ConnectED, who works to promote the combination of academic and technical education referred to as “linked learning,” said those earlier efforts were too isolated and in many instances were initiated without enough planning or support.

“They have existed in spite of the system,” Hoachlander said. “They were the product of innovative teachers and an innovative principal who did innovative things, but too often than not, when the leader left, the innovation left with them.”

Meanwhile, Hoachlander said, the new grants come using a holistic approach, combining industry-specific programs with the needs of local employers.

“The pathway by design is intended to prepare students to graduate from high school ready to move on to both post-secondary education and careers, not one or the other,” Hoachlander said. “In many ways, it’s about changing the way we teacher the core academics as it is about delivering high-quality career technical education.”