Over the past 50 years, high schools, regional occupational programs and colleges in Orange County have offered students robust internships, pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeships while equipping them to join the workforce, says Kathy Boyd, OCDE’s director of career education. Next month, Orange County student accomplishments will be highlighted at the ninth annual OC Pathways Showcase.
The free event invites guests to tune in from 9 to 10 a.m. on Dec. 7 to see how students’ involvement in work-based learning programs has shaped their aspirations and readiness for higher education and careers. Based on the level of interest from business professionals, and to promote greater accessibility for students and families, this year’s showcase will follow the virtual format implemented at the start of the pandemic.
Led by OCDE, OC Pathways is a countywide consortium established in 2014 to promote collaboration among local school districts, colleges, universities, businesses and ROPs. The goal is to increase work-based learning experiences for students from kindergarten to college.
Across the county, K-16 students can get involved in a variety of industry sectors, including business management, computing, education, engineering and healthcare.
Authentic work-based experiences
For its latest showcase, the program welcomes local businesses, nonprofit organizations, administrators, counselors, parents and even students in hopes of bringing more awareness to career technical education.
“The purpose behind what we do is to make sure everyone realizes that career is the trajectory for all students, and they each deserve all the resources and assistance that’s available within educational systems,” said Boyd.
The perennial theme, “Your Workforce is Here: Student Stories, Student Voice, Student Choice,” flips the script as students shift from mentees to mentors. Each featured student will narrate their classroom and work-based learning experiences through a “Day in the Life” video format commonly seen across social media platforms.
The OC Pathways team made a point to show students in non-scripted, more authentic settings rather than formal presentations. Coordinator Kim Goodwin said they have updated their approach to document career technical education programs more personally while giving students the chance to display their workforce readiness.
“The emphasis this year is centered on students telling their stories, because they are creating really dynamic stories on their own,” Goodwin said.
More than 10 student stories will be highlighted during the showcase, representing some of the 58 career pathways offered throughout the county’s north, south, central and coastal regions. Viewers will also learn about the courses and learning opportunities offered by this year’s strategic partners and ROPs.
Through the sharing of student experiences in classrooms and work settings, event organizers hope to show the community that career technical education opportunities offer benefits to every student. Boyd said their intent is to offer interested parents a seat at the table to help navigate their child’s journey into college and career. Guests can pre-register for the livestream or watch the recording afterward at ocpathways.com/showcase.