NC New Schools is contributing to the North Carolina Pathways to Prosperity initiative, a business-led education innovation effort designed to build a seamless career pathway system that meets the workforce development needs of regional economies across the state. It works to combine rigorous academics with powerful technical education.
The NC Pathways to Prosperity Leadership Council, chaired by Duke Energy SVP Jeff Corbett, is at the helm of North Carolina’s approach, and includes representatives of employers, NC Department of Public Instruction, NC Community College System, NC Department of Commerce and the Office of the Governor. The effort is aligned with the goals of NC WORKS and the NC Commission on Workforce Development, seeking to establish clear career pathways leading young people from high school to a post-secondary degree or industry credential and ultimately to a career that supports themselves, their family and community.
To accomplish this goal, the Pathways Leadership Council encourages development of seamless regional models that can be replicated across the state, focusing in the Northeast region (Halifax, Martin, Washington and Beaufort counties) and the Southwest region (Rowan, Cabarrus and Iredell counties). The effort works to assess gaps in the system and identify the tools and policy outcomes needed to create a seamless workforce development system statewide.
The council is focused on the following key areas:
- Career information and advising systems, starting in the middle grades, expose students to a wide range of career options and opportunities to learn about high school and postsecondary courses of study leading to careers.
- Employer engagement connects business with educators to provide a continuum of work-based learning opportunities throughout grades 9-14.
- Local and regional intermediaries serve as conveners, brokers and technical assistance providers to schools and employers engaged in building and sustaining pathways for students.
- State policies and systems are in place to support career pathways for students.
- Teachers receive the supports needed to work collaboratively and meet the individual needs of each student to be both college and career ready.
Built on National Approach
The North Carolina initiative builds on its participation in year one of a national planning process coordinated by Harvard Graduate School of Education and Jobs for the Future. That group followed a 2011 report called Pathways to Prosperity, released by the two national partners, which argues that students need additional pathways that combine rigorous academics with strong technical education to equip them with the skills and credentials to succeed in an increasingly competitive labor market. The initiative recognizes that the United States lags behind some other countries in preparing and equipping young people for successful careers.