School district offers many paths to careers |

School district offers many paths to careers

Traci Davis
Washoe County School District

When more than 3,000 students in the Washoe County School District (WCSD) cross the graduation stage to accept their diplomas each spring, many of them will not have their sights set on college. In fact, some of the most dedicated and talented students in our District have mapped their futures directly into the highly-skilled workforce.

And we couldn’t be happier.

We know that not all of our students are college-bound, and there are plenty of worthy and important highly-skilled career opportunities they can explore instead.

Our District works hard to expand our students’ horizons by providing training, options, and choices if they choose not to attend college. Moreover, we have established important programs and partnerships within our community that help students transition smoothly into the highly-skilled workforce upon graduation.

We know that not all of our students are college-bound, and there are plenty of worthy and important highly-skilled career opportunities they can explore instead.

Most importantly, after they receive this training, we want these highly-skilled employees to stay in Nevada. We want them to bring their skills, education, and background to support the Silver State’s economy for many years to come.

Students can begin to develop their talents and explore their options years before they graduate. The WCSD Signature Academies and Career & Technical Education (CTE) programs offer on-campus training in:

Business Management and Marketing

Agriculture and Natural Resources

Health Sciences

Information Technology

Media & Communications

Hospitality, Human Services and Education

Skilled and Technical Sciences, including engineering, manufacturing, auto-diesel, cabinet-making, energy technology, metalworking/welding, and drafting

Through partnerships with area businesses, students can serve internships and work with mentors in fields they want to pursue.

More than 100 of our CTE teachers recently attended a tour of our local businesses that represent high growth industries. They learned about what services they provide, what training and skills they require, and in what ways they could partner with the District. These businesses included PetSmart, NOW Foods, IGT, U.S. Ordnance, and Koch Business Solutions.

The District has already established strong partnerships with Jensen MetalTech, Panasonic, Tesla, and zulily.

WCSD has also implemented the Learn & Earn Pathways in collaboration with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. This is a seamless highway for students starting in the 9th grade and ending at a 4-year degree.

A person can get on or off this pathway at different junctures — taking training, internship experience, certifications and varying degrees with them at each exit.

The pathway that is currently completed and in place is Manufacturing. Life Sciences is in the final stage of approval and will likely result in three pathways: Biological Science, Physical Science and Life Science. Information Technology and Education are in the first stages of development and should be completed by the end of the 2016-17 school year.

And school districts across Nevada are receiving powerful support from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development: The 2015 Legislature approved the establishment of Workforce Innovations for a New Nevada (WINN), an account set up specifically to fund workforce development and training programs statewide. Under terms of the law, each employee who completes the workforce training program will be given a permanent, full-time position in the business, and will be paid comparable wages to the average industrial hourly wage.

In addition to industry tours, our District also encourages teacher externships where CTE teachers spend 40 hours in a specific industry to learn business expectations, current practices and skills, and hiring requirements. Jensen MetalTech hosted two Sparks High teachers from the new Manufacturing Technologies program in 2015-16 and we will engage in more of these opportunities this year.

While we use our Signature Academies & CTE programs to prepare students for careers in our local workforce, we don’t limit students who engage in these dynamic programs.

All students who demonstrate workplace readiness, technical skills and academic achievement can earn college credits from our local college system. These credits provide evidence of skill level and give them a jump start on certifications and degree programs.

Traci Davis is the superintendent of schools for the Washoe County School District.


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