SALINAS VALLEY — In an unprecedented collaboration between South County Career Technical Education (CTE) programs, more than 25 teachers from Gonzales Unified School District, Soledad Unified School District and South Monterey County Joint Union High School District participated in the first Work-Based Learning CTE teacher training under the umbrella of the newly created South Monterey County Work-Based Learning Collaborative.
“We don’t want to work in isolation and are eager to work together with our neighboring districts to create local opportunities for our CTE students so that they can learn and prepare for the world of work,” said Martha Pantoja, CTE coordinator for SUSD.
The May 24 workshop was co-facilitated by Earn & Learn, a contracted company that specializes in advancing work-based learning for youth. The three districts are committed to addressing regional workforce needs that are unique to local rural communities to promote and increase work-based learning opportunities, including internships, for area youth that are enrolled in CTE pathways in all three school districts in grades 9-12.
“Our local business community, city governments and school district have been incredibly supportive in making our efforts become a reality. We look forward to stronger partnerships to benefit our youth and the local economy,” said Candice McFarland Camacho, educational services coordinator for GUSD.
More than 3,000 high school students from the three districts are currently taking CTE courses in the following industry sectors: agriculture and natural resources; information and communication technologies; hospitality, tourism and recreation; education, child development and family services; engineering; arts, media and entertainment; health science and medical technologies; and building and construction trades.
“Some of the recommendations from the teachers were to organize in the near future a South County Career Expo for our CTE students and to increase industry participation in high-demand jobs to be able to provide work-based learning opportunities that are currently limited in our rural areas, internships, mock interviews, job shadowing and more,” said Lilian De La Torre, CTE coordinator for SMCJUHSD.
The South Monterey County Work-Based Learning Collaborative is currently seeking additional Employer Pledges (via https://tinyurl.com/SMCWBL) from local industries, nonprofits, government entities and small businesses to participate in this first-of-its-kind workforce development effort by providing opportunities for local high school CTE students to become work and career ready.