“It’s all about exposure,” says Anthony Davis. “It’s exposing the students to the businesses but also exposing the businesses to the students.”
Davis, Director of CTE and Federal Programs for Davie County Schools, was referring to the Davie High CTE (Career and Technical Education) Program’s efforts to connect its students with area businesses.
“There are some communities in our state that don’t have any large businesses, others have big businesses but they don’t interact with the schools, and some places have multiple school systems within their county fighting for the same businesses. We are very blessed here to have one high school and several businesses willing to come out and work with us.”
Janet Barnes, Career Development Coordinator (CDC), agreed, adding,” We have quite a bit of interaction, but we’d always like more. We can never have too much interaction.”
“We were super pleased with the number of business and industry representatives that we had willing to reach out to our students during the Career Expo, but we want local businesses and industry to know that there are many more ways to get involved with our students throughout the year.”
“We have these amazing businesses and industries out there, wonderful places that will eventually provide wonderful opportunities for our students full time. Often the students know the names of the companies, but they don’t know what goes on there. By industries opening their doors to us I think that it will definitely open up a pipeline of potential employees.”
Davis believes this could be especially beneficial to businesses in helping to recruit younger workers. “Now that it is such a competitive job market, they are having to learn what it takes to recruit a millennial. Job recruiting today is nothing like it was 20 or 30 years ago. We are having to work together to figure out how we mesh today’s workforce with the current needs of employers. Millennials sometimes get a bad rap, but they have a lot to offer. Millennials do a great job of multitasking and they were born into technology whereas we were not. We have to be able to utilize their strengths to develop the workforce businesses need.”
An easy first step for businesses to get involved is to allow a student to job shadow.
“Some businesses are limited on the amount of time they can host students and that’s fine,” said Barnes. “Job shadowing can be half a day, a full day, or even a couple hours, whatever will allow a student to get a snapshot of the type of work that is done at that particular workplace.”
“If job shadowing is successful, they might want to consider an internship which allows a student to work 135 hours over the course of a semester. Maybe they will really like the student and want to continue working with them through a pre-apprenticeship and even an apprenticeship.”
“We’d love to have businesses willing to have our students come to serve as interns throughout the year, summertime, or whenever they can do it,” said Davis. “We can do internships at any time.”
As part of an internship, students earn course credit and are required to provide several items of evidence to demonstrate what they’ve learned and how they’ve grown.
Businesses Don’t Need to Worry about Insurance Liability
When approached about offering job shadowing or internships opportunities, some businesses have expressed concerns about having students under 18 in their buildings because of insurance liability. “We’d love for our business community to understand that our students are insured by us through state and CTE funds so it’s okay for businesses to open their doors to the students,” said Davis.
He’d also like businesses to know that there are students looking for internship opportunities in all different areas. “My daughter did an internship in a doctor’s office. It doesn’t have to be a huge corporation, small businesses can offer opportunities for students. We had a student who wanted to work with pets who completed a semester internship with a pet groomer. It can be anything.”
Barnes would like to assure businesses that in addition to insurance the school provides a confidentiality statement. “These things are in place to protect both our students and businesses.”
Pre-Apprenticeships and Apprenticeships
“If a company wants to expand beyond an internship we can go to a pre-apprenticeship,” said Davis.
“Pre-Apprenticeships and apprenticeships offer great educational and employment opportunities for our students and graduates. A student still in high school can join a cooperating business for a pre-apprenticeship or if they wait until after high school a full apprenticeship. Businesses can create their own apprenticeship programs or collaborate in a consortium of companies. In Davidson and Davie Counties, we have Davidson & Davie Apprenticeship Consortium (DDAC) which has a focus on advanced manufacturing. Consortium members include Ingersoll Rand, Avgol, BMK Americas, CPM Wolverine Proctor, Egger Wood Products, and Kurz. Consortium members and Davidson County Community College collaborated with ApprenticehipNC to set expectations for students and businesses. Eventually, we are hoping to see an expansion of this consortium to include other academic and career pathways as well.”
“In either case, through a consortium or individually, pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeships are win-win situations for students and businesses. Businesses get a reliable, educated employee whom they have trained from the beginning, and our students get a quality education debt-free and are guaranteed employment.”
According to Davis, Davie High is currently in the process of developing a pre-apprenticeship program with Davie Construction and hopes to expand into other industries and with other companies.
Lunch & Learns, Classroom Collaborations, STEMinars, and STEM Field Trips
Barnes is always looking for business owners, industry representatives and other professionals to conduct a Lunch & Learn session during Smart Lunch, the 40-minute time slot students have to make up school work, receive tutoring, or attend lectures or club meetings.
There are also opportunities for individual class-based collaboration to occur. “For example, both Members Credit Union and the State Employees Credit Union have come into our Personal Finance classes as guest speakers.”
“STEM teachers also invite local businesses and individuals to Smart Lunch sessions,” said Davis. “In these STEMinars, businesses help students learn about their business or occupation through discussion and hands-on activities. Recently, STEM teachers have included pertinent CTE classes to share in this opportunity. Field trips are taken to area businesses and attractions, mainly during the summer, to expose students to STEM-related fields. We are always looking for partner businesses who will open their doors for tours and who would be willing to join us on our campus for STEMinars/Lunch and Learns.”
CTE/STEM Alliance Business Advisory Council
Another way businesses can be involved with the high school is to join the CTE/STEM Alliance Business Advisory Council, which is mandated by law, according to Davis. “Thankfully, ours is well attended. We have a good group of people who come and want to be involved. We certainly want to showcase to our businesses what we are doing, but we also want input from them as to what we can do better to help them.”
Equally important is the summer externship program for teachers.
“Getting our teachers exposed to what our businesses are doing is very beneficial for helping them to guide students,” said Davis. “Businesses can host the externs for as little as an hour or as long as a couple of days. Offering that type of flexibility turned out to be very successful last summer.”
New Collaboration Opportunities in the Works
Barnes and Davis are constantly brainstorming additional ways to enhance the business/student connection.
They are exploring credentialing options through state-approved modules on specific soft skills or professional skills since those are areas business advisory members have expressed concerns about. Students would receive a certificate detailing the modules and skills they had completed. Examples of available modules include balancing work and home life, proper use of technology, and teamwork.
“The certification would let potential employers know that the student has been properly vetted in that skill,” Davis said.
“Manufacturing Day has been a wonderful experience for our middle schoolers,” said Davis “We would like to be able to do the same thing for the high school students. We don’t know what that would look like yet because there are so many more students but getting the high school students into the businesses would also be valuable.
Barnes would like to establish a job board as well as a job link on the school’s website to assist both students and employers.
“We want all of our businesses to know that there are so many opportunities available to them,” said Davis. “You can come to a STEMinar, you can come to a Lunch & Learn, you can be involved with the business advisory council, or come participate in our Career Expo. We want to be involved with you and we want you to be involved with us”.
Barnes added, “We are so grateful for all of the business owners and industry reps who’ve chosen to be involved with our students and we look forward to continuing to expand that.”
For more information about how your business can connect with Davie High please contact:
Anthony Davis, CTE Director – firstname.lastname@example.org or 336-751-5921 x1015
Janet Barnes, Career Development Coordinator – email@example.com or 336-751-5905