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By Michael Lawrence

 

Helping a student in high school make a solid career choice aligned with his or her many interests, backgrounds, family situation, dreams, and desires is an important and critical part of a high school counselor or teacher role.  

There are many influences and influencers in a young person’s life that impact their career decisions and plans. With the increasing popularity and success of Registered Apprenticeship (RA), a good match of a RA employer, sponsor, and apprentice can have lifelong positive impact.

In speaking with secondary school staff, identify what their role is in speaking to secondary school students and how they ensure RA programs are an equal and comparable choice for a variety of students. Many students can choose among continuing their post-secondary education, joining the armed forces, taking any job they can find, taking time outside of the world of work, or consider a RA. In any of these cases, the choice made is incitive of the student’s priorities at that point in their life.

Of course — a RA starts with an employer — and every RA program is 100 percent the choice of an employer in the community. Once this commitment is established, the role of secondary school staff becomes crucial. They are responsible for ensuring that the right apprentice is paired with the right employer. This pivotal process necessitates persuasive engagement with both the potential apprentice and the employer to ensure a successful match.

Talking with the Student

Rather than narrowly focusing on convincing students that a RA is their sole option, it is more effective to present a spectrum of career pathways, allowing them to make well-informed choices. The majority of students show an interest in RAs, making it essential to thoroughly discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each available pathway.

The ramp up in career guidance discussion often happens in the 10th grade and invariably interests come from many diverse areas and are there opportunities in those areas. Some may be realistic, such as a teacher, while others, such as being a professional football player or RAP artist may not. But these are the starting points of discussion.  

Career guidance discussions typically intensify around the tenth grade, as students begin to explore their interests which often span a wide range of diverse fields. These discussions should acknowledge realistic career options like teaching and more aspirational goals such as becoming a professional football player or a hip-hop artist. Such discussions serve as critical starting points for shaping a student's future career path.

Talking with the Employers

The challenge lies in ensuring there are available employers and opportunities aligning with students' career interests. When school staff engage with employers, they often encounter the pervasive misconception that the current generation is 'lazy,' 'unwilling to work,' or 'not serious.' Addressing this misconception is pivotal.  

It is important to communicate that when a student's interests are matched with their aptitudes or strengths, employers are often surprised at the exceptional quality of young employees they can find. For instance, a student might excel as a phenomenal welder, yet have little enthusiasm for English class. It is essential to remind employers that, like these students, they too likely had subjects they excelled in and others they found less engaging during their own schooling. This perspective helps bridge understanding and sets the stage for more fruitful collaborations between schools and employers.

Bringing Employers Together with Students

Many students naturally gravitate towards familiar and comfortable career choices. For employers, making a modest investment of time, such as delivering a one-hour guest lecture or presentation in a Career & Technical Education class, can yield substantial benefits. This involvement not only positions them as active participants in the educational process but also allows them to identify high-quality candidates early, before these students explore opportunities elsewhere.  

After the presentation, students are more likely to discuss their newfound interests with family and mentors, further solidifying their career inclinations. Additionally, this engagement provides employers with a unique opportunity to observe students in an academic setting. Based on this observation, they can recommend to teachers, counselors, or school officials that certain students be considered for the RA program, thereby cultivating a pipeline of motivated and informed candidates.

Summary

RA represents a distinct choice among various career paths available to students as they evaluate their future opportunities. While each option has its own set of advantages, an RA often emerges as the optimal choice. This pathway not only aligns precisely with a student's interests but also meets the specific needs of employers, creating a dedicated and mutually beneficial career trajectory. By carefully matching these elements, RAs can unlock significant potential for both students and employers, fostering a workforce that is both skilled and passionate about their professions.

 

*Any opinions expressed in this editorial are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of CYAI, ICF, or their affiliates.* 

Empowering High School Career Counselors: Key Tactics for Introducing RA Programs to Students

By Michael Lawrence

 

Helping a student in high school make a solid career choice aligned with his or her many interests, backgrounds, family situation, dreams, and desires is an important and critical part of a high school counselor or teacher role.  

There are many influences and influencers in a young person’s life that impact their career decisions and plans. With the increasing popularity and success of Registered Apprenticeship (RA), a good match of a RA employer, sponsor, and apprentice can have lifelong positive impact.