- As if they were recognizing students committing to play for top-ranked college athletic programs, Henrico County Public Schools in Virginia held a “signing day” to celebrate the accomplishments of seniors who have accepted full-time jobs upon graduation, according to Today.
- “Henrico Schools’ Career and Technical Education program decided that athletes weren’t the only ones who deserved to have their hard work recognized as they look to the future,” said a post on the district’s Facebook page.
- At the event, the seniors signed letters of intent to work as machinists or apprentices in industries such as aeronautics, construction, electrical, and heating and air-conditioning. In the article, Mac Beaton, the director of the district’s Certified and Technical Education program, said that employers for these types of companies don’t want to train new employees, and that students wouldn’t necessarily be prepared for these positions if they went to college.
The district’s decision to recognize the students for their success represents a significant shift toward the attitude that career-ready can be just as important a goal for a student as being college-ready. The growth of pathway programs, internships and apprenticeship opportunities in recent years is showing students that there are multiple routes to success, and that it’s OK if they feel that a traditional college experience is not for them.
A recent study, in fact, shows that students in career-focused high schools, such as vocational and technical high schools, had higher graduation rates than their peers in traditional high schools. Districts such as the Washoe County School District in Nevada are spending millions to retrofit schools with updated, industry-specific technology so students are learning with the latest equipment.