Public-private partnership advances county-wide vocational and technical education system overhaul
Kalamazoo RESA (KRESA) and Southwest Michigan First’s public-private partnership, formed prior to the 2019 Career & Technical Education (CTE) mileage campaign, remains strong as the two agencies unite in the goal of overhauling the CTE system of Kalamazoo County. The leaders of the two agencies are confident that they will be able to cover a substantial part of the cost of building a new centrally located career center, which will house equipment and courses that prepare students for future opportunities on the job. our regional labor market. Logistical research is currently underway to find a suitable site in the hope of cutting the tape on the new facility in the fall of 2024.
In addition to the construction of the Career Center, the plans to redesign the CTE system, announced by KRESA in a 2019 report to the community, include the development of strong outreach and career exploration programs to help students do so. enlightened plans for their future; the design of a state-of-the-art continuing education program in high schools; maximizing cooperation and collaboration with regional employers and higher education institutions; and implementing targeted supports to remove systemic barriers to participation and ensure equitable access for all students.
After voters in Kalamazoo County adopted the Career and Technical Operational Millage in 2019, KRESA partnered with the WE Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, the University of Michigan Youth Policy Lab, and Southwest Michigan First to conduct a Comprehensive analysis of CTE programming and local job statistics to assess which possible CTE programs are most likely to lead to high-paying, high-demand careers in Southwest Michigan. This research included a survey of employers, focus groups of employers by sector, an ongoing dialogue with stakeholders in business and industry, and two intensive analyzes of the local labor market carried out by the Institute. Upjohn and the University of Michigan Youth Policy Lab. In January 2021, KRESA published the results of these studies in a second report to the community.
A critical next step for KRESA and Southwest Michigan First is to assemble a CTE Steering Committee comprised of business, education and community leaders to provide recommendations to the KRESA Education Council. The Steering Committee will provide valuable input on program standards, the size and design of facilities, and the equipment necessary to provide high quality education to students.
A location for the new career center has yet to be determined, but priority will be given to a location close to local employers and convenient access for every high school in the county. Options are being considered in the central part of the county near Portage Road / Sprinkle Road and the I-94 corridor. The location should simplify transportation to and from the career center and workplace learning opportunities for students.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kalamazoo RESA has made substantial progress in implementing the first stage of its overhaul of the Kalamazoo County CTE system. The middle school district focused on the critical areas of needs outlined in its first report to the community in 2019. Among other steps, KRESA hired six more career coaches to implement outreach and exploration programs. career in the county’s nine school districts. . During the 2020-2021 school year, career coaches focused on implementation at the college level, focusing on various topics such as financial literacy and career planning. They will continue to work closely with local school districts to personalize CTE programming, ensuring it is relevant to each school and complements classroom learning.