Every young person deserves a chance to explore opportunities relating to both college and career, this was the theme that rang clearly throughout the 20th annual Connecting Activities Conference hosted by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) on May 15th. Emphasis is placed on attending college after high school, however, the reality is pursuing a 4-year degree is not an option for some teens, and in fact, may not even be what they need to be successful. A recent NPR article captures this sentiment perfectly, as it addresses high-paying vacancies in the trades that are left empty, as increasingly more young people line up for universities - only to find themselves faced with the challenge of finding employment once they’ve graduated college.
Attending this conference made me realize we’re on the right path with our Positive Youth Development Impact Council (PYDIC), which is centered around successful youth transitions to work, education, or training after high school.
While PYDIC’s initial goal was to increase high school graduation rates throughout the county (it is currently at 87%), we also understand the need to focus on ensuring our young people graduate from high school with a college or career plan.
On April 18th, community members, non-profit organizations, and local businesses put their heads together to develop a plan to support college and career readiness for all Berkshire County Teens.
The result is a commitment to:
1) Support and increase existing mentorships for Grades K-12
2) Formalize and strengthen partnerships between business, non-profit, and other sectors
3) Increase education and access to information for parents on college and career readiness for their children
Regardless of which option a young person chooses to pursue, work-based experiences and internships are the foundation our young people need to successfully transition into life beyond high school and when our youth succeed, we all succeed.
For more information and/or to join PYDIC, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413.442.6948 x15. I look forward to hearing from you!