JumpStart regional teams consisting of economic development/workforce experts, businesses, colleges, and school districts collaborate to offer real workplace experiences and career courses to high school students. Students get the opportunity to attain credentials that are valued and promulgated in career sectors that are most likely to lead to jobs with high wages. At the same time, the Louisiana JumpStart Program also prepares the participants for their tertiary education in two and four-year courses and career development.
Learning institutions are given a similar credit in their letter grade for students who attain a nationally recognized credential in a job sector that is in high demand as they do for students who get top grades in the AP test. In other words, the learning institutions are rewarded for preparing students for college education, as well as career entry. The Louisiana JumpStart program offers training and courses to students no matter which diploma pathway they took.
Recently, the Elementary and Secondary Education Board of Louisiana expanded the JumpStart Summers program, creating an opportunity for over three thousand high school students to earn essential industry-based credentials, attain academic credit, and participate in workplace-based learning during their summer break, while earning a wage.
Workplace-based learning is important because it offers students an unparalleled opportunity to master critical workplace skills, all while applying their academic school work. This is equally true for students that are career-focused as those that are university-bound.
In the first two years of the JumpStart Summer program, forty-eight providers enrolled over 1700 students. Students who successfully completed their programs attained a collective 1998 industry-based credentials and 1676 academic credits. Soon 15 additional providers were included in the program bringing the total number of providers to fifty-nine and that of programs provided to one hundred and sixty-six. The program’s structure focuses on career fields that are in high demand such as retail, tourism, hospitality, information technology, healthcare, culinary arts, business, automotive repair, drone operation, construction, and manufacturing.
The expansion of the JumpStart Summer program came just as industry and education leaders were exploring the evolution of Louisiana’s JumpStart Program. The JumpStart program provides students an excellent opportunity to pursue their interest in a career and technical education course that they may otherwise not be offered in their usual school syllabus. They can then use these classes to advance their experience and certifications towards industry-based diplomas. The program makes high-demand career pathways such as software development accessible to students across the state of Louisiana by introducing them to real-world experience, cutting-edge knowledge, and skills that are in high demand from employers. At the very least, students get the opportunity to learn essential life skills.