St. Landry schools praised for job preparedness training

Friday, February 28, 2020

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Praise for job preparedness programs in St. Landry Parish schools reflect a growing awareness in recent years of the value of a first-rate technical education, and also bodes well for the parish work force in the future, officials say.

State officials have cited the achievements of the Jobs for America Graduates (JAG) programs at Opelousas High, North Central High, Northwest High, and Opelousas Junior High.

About 200 students are currently enrolled in the programs, according to St. Landry curriculum director Angela Cassimere. She said they provide students with skills needed to get a good job, and also to continue their education toward a college degree or meaningful technical certificate.

The success is mirrored in numbers and in student experiences.

For example, at Northwest High a grant from AT&T has helped establish a virtual classroom where students can interact with industry professionals, and where teachers can learn what skills they need to teach.

One hundred percent of the Northwest High JAG students earned their high school diploma and have gone on to college or technical schools, according to Susan Mouton, the JAG specialist there. The other programs also have high achievement marks.

Students in the JAG programs are also given the opportunity to visit local businesses and see the workplace first-hand. The programs give them a chance to learn about business and trade opportunities that they would not otherwise know about, according to Opelousas High JAG president Kendriel Pijue.

Education leaders at the state, regional, and local levels have begun to introduce a variety of programs designed for students who select a technical career path, according to Bill Rodier, executive director of St. Landry economic development. Improving education at all levels is a primary goal in St. Landry Parish, he said.

Kim Hunter Reed, Louisiana’s commissioner of higher education, recently told a   meeting of Acadiana’s higher education leaders, school district superintendents, business leaders, heads of nonprofit organizations, and public officials that Louisiana “must honor all pathways that lead to success, especially among groups that have traditionally lacked access to higher education and the promise of a better life.”

As part of that effort, the state has enhanced its Jump Start program established five years ago to improve career and technical education for high school students and also begun to raise awareness of the opportunities at two-year institutions such as LSU-Eunice and the South Louisiana Community College.

“Given Louisiana’s economic mix, all of this makes sense,” in the view of the Council for a Better Louisiana, a backer of the effort. “Because of our concentrations in industrial jobs, oil and gas, and manufacturing, our economy relies on a large number of workers who need skills training and credentials to get hired, but not necessarily a four-year degree. We need to further diversify our economy so that we have a better balance in the mix, but that won’t change the existing demand for these workers.”

In Acadiana, leaders are committed to a “55 by 25” initiative to increase the proportion of adults in the region who continue their education after high school. The goal is to increase the proportion of working adults in the region who earn post-secondary degrees, professional certificates, or other high-value credentials to 55 percent by the year 2025.       The effort stems from studies that show that 65 percent of the jobs in the United States will require education beyond high school by 2020.

Three things to know about this story:

  • State officials have cited the achievements of the Jobs for America Graduates (JAG) programs in St. Landry.
  • About 200 students are currently enrolled in the programs that provide students with skills needed to get a good job, and also to continue their education toward a college degree or meaningful technical certificate.
  • Education leaders at the state, regional, and local levels have begun to introduce a variety of programs designed for students who select a technical career path.

 

 

           

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