Severing the Skills Gap

By on May 17, 2018

By Art McCoy, Superintendent, Jennings School District

Education is changing.

There are more middle-skill jobs than skilled employees available. Career pathways for prosperity are more popular than ever to businesses, chambers of commerce, and other stakeholders. Career pathways–with embedded college and career opportunities–are the future of secondary education. Many secondary schools are just starting to catch on.

Communities across the nation are searching for new actions that empower, enlighten, and engage students, staff, and community stakeholders in real and meaningful ways.

For over a decade, my work has been focused on transforming education from PreK to post-secondary education. As a superintendent, university and college board of trustee and professor, Urban League Executive Board Member and more, my lens is broad and unique. The powerful career pathways for prosperity that we have created for our students are clear, industry-driven, and a current reality for our secondary schools starting with middle school exposure, site visits, professional speakers series, service learning, high school level industry-recognized credentials, college credits (towards 2-year degrees and certificates) and paid internships.

With the help of corporate partners, we are severing–not just closing but quickly cutting off– the middle skills-jobs gap. This is what The Skills Gap: A Living St. Louis Special from March of 2018 highlights.

Just last week, I spoke in New York and at a meeting with the Regional Business Council. During my presentation, one powerful point resonated with hundreds of people, one of whom was the former CEO of American Express. He personally thanked me for reminding and re-energizing him on this important lesson and point: soft-skills are actually power skills, using a cultural competence lens, for underserved and underrepresented students and employees.

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