Madison, WI: Helping Students Get An Early Start
To help students discover if STEM courses interest them, in 2015 the Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP) launched Inspire Madison Region, a software component of the web-based program Xello, which the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) made available to all public school districts. While Xello allows students to learn about specific occupations based on interests and abilities, the Inspire Madison Region component enables students to connect via the interactive platform with mentors and career coaches. Students also participate in job shadowing, internships, and apprenticeships at local employers.
“Through the connections Inspire provides, MadREP is facilitating student awareness of local career opportunities and growing the future workforce in the Madison region,” said Gene Dalhoff, Vice President of Talent and Education. Through Inspire Madison Region, 70,000 students can connect with 500 career coaches as well as over 400 companies, many of which offer career-based learning experiences for students.
Another MadREP and Wisconsin DPI program, Wisconsin Pathways—Madison Region, is a region-wide effort to deliver high-quality career pathways in high schools. The pathways focus on occupations associated with high-skill, in-demand industry sectors. Students complete a pathway by taking a sequence of aligned courses, earning an industry-recognized credential, enrolling in dual college credit classes, participating in career-based and work-based learning experiences, and accessing related Career and Technical Education (CTE) student organizations.
Dalhoff said the pathways offer benefits for high school students and for employers. Students gain education and training that align with the needs of the local job market, and a high school diploma with at least one industry-recognized credential. Employers gain partnerships with a greater number of schools.
Another recent effort is the expansion of Fabrication Laboratories (Fab Labs) in school districts throughout the Madison Region. Fab Labs provide the physical space, equipment, instruction, teamwork, and other resources necessary for students to explore STEM-related topics and engage in projects.
MadREP is working to engage with even more students in the region. “Looking to the future, we will prioritize growing opportunities to support the BIPOC community through economic development strategies and policies that prioritize funding STEM-related endeavors,” said Jason M. Fields, MadREP’s President and CEO. “Students of color need to see themselves reflected in the industry to believe it is possible.”
Originally published on BusinessFacilities.com.