In my initial encounter with the term “ecosystem,” as it pertains to the intricate network of stakeholders involved in our work at GPS Education Partners, I must admit I had some reservations. I was concerned it might come across as a bit gimmicky. However, fast forward five years, and the federal government is embracing the term to describe the multifaceted framework essential to sustain a robust work-based learning and career-connected learning program.
Over the coming months, I will be sharing insights on how businesses, community partners, and educational institutions can collectively construct a comprehensive work-based learning ecosystem within their communities. This isn’t just for educators; if you’re a business seeking a robust talent pipeline, work-based learning is an established approach.
These posts are particularly timely since the federal government has recently opened applications for career-connected learning grants, which can bolster schools in the development of these programs. (For more information, you can find the application linked here). It’s important to remember that you’re not alone in this endeavor. GPS Education Partners, as a work-based learning intermediary, has a wealth of experience helping businesses, individual schools, and larger communities establish work-based learning ecosystems. You can visit gpsed.org/cs to learn more and get in touch with us to initiate a discovery discussion and explore how we can assist you!
Today’s Tips: How to establish ecosystem partnerships with K-12 partners if you represent a BUSINESS, PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATION, OR TRADES UNION:
- Be a Subject Matter Expert: Elevate awareness about your company, trade, and the range of available positions. Local high school CTE (Career and Technical Education) programs focus on imparting students with career skills but may lack the expertise to provide comprehensive guidance on various career opportunities in that field. You can get involved by offering to serve as a subject matter expert in related courses.
- Join a CTE Advisory Board: If you are seeking candidates with specific skills, the most effective way to build a talent pool is by assisting local high schools in acquiring the necessary resources to teach those skills. Even if you’re not currently hiring high school interns, these students greatly benefit from insights about college and career options from industry experts. It’s worth noting that CTE teachers may not necessarily serve as career or college counselors.
- Offer Work-Based Learning Opportunities: The prospect of incorporating work-based learning doesn’t have to be daunting. You don’t have to start with paid internships. Decisions regarding college and careers can be substantially influenced through activities like tours, job shadowing, skills demonstrations, and projects initiated by companies in collaboration with classrooms. Consider exploring programs such as the CAPS Network, or seek assistance from GPS Education Partners to design a tailored sequence of activities that direct the most suitable students to your HR manager.
If you’re eager to delve deeper into the world of work-based learning ecosystems, I encourage you to explore this comprehensive whitepaper, developed in collaboration with Getting Smart and GPS Ed: gpsed.org/wblecosystems.
P.S. And for those who need more convincing about the importance of ecosystem models, I recommend reading this work by the Aurora Institute.