Despite a strong economic recovery, business leaders in communities around the country have expressed concern about a skills gap among high school and college graduates. Secondary education leaders in many places have strengthened their Career and Technical Education programs, and community colleges are offering stackable credentials in fields such as coding. For many Gateway to College students, simply graduating high school with college credits is a remarkable accomplishment. For these students to take the next step in discovering a career that is meaningful to their families and communities, we believe that a more intentional connection is necessary.
Gateway to Career is an ambitious project that GtCNN has launched in seven communities around the country. The project, which is supported through funding from Strada Education, will connect opportunity youth to career planning, preparation, experience, and placement. The beginning of Phase 1, which wraps up this summer, conducts landscape analyses in each community. The analyses will determine available resources, career preparation programs, internship, mentorship, and job opportunities, and the capacity of each program. The overarching goal of this project is to improve the career readiness of Gateway to College students by the time they graduate.
In the latter stage of Phase I, we will convene with Gateway to College program staff and local stakeholders for a strategic planning session that will develop action plans for each community. The action plans will vary across communities, but they will share the common goal of connecting Gateway to College youth to effective career programming. The action plans will include measurable results using WIOA’s (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act) 14 youth program elements as a guiding roadmap.
Phase II of Gateway to Career will consist of launching the action plans in each community. The plans will leverage existing resources and funded programs, and connect Gateway youth to those resources. In select cities, we will be adapting Gateway to College services to enrich career programming, pathway design, and job experiences. The action plans will include sustainability measures that include discovering additional funding streams allotted to support opportunity youth in career programming.
The colleges and communities included in the Gateway to Career initiative include Portland Community College, Spokane Falls Community College, City College of Philadelphia, Camden County College, Madison Area Technical College, Riverside City College and Christel House/Ivy Tech Community College. By working to develop relationships where stakeholders in each community defines what’s important, GtCNN believes that we can place our young people on a pathway to a meaningful postsecondary credential and career.