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inRoads Research: Secondary-Level Education to fill Workforce Pipeline

Secondary-Level Education: Vital Support to Fill the Workforce Pipeline

A primary key to fulfilling the needs of tomorrow’s workforce is to prepare tomorrow’s workforce today. The pathway to filling high-demand, high-wage occupations begins in channels of secondary-level education. However, the number of jobs that requires a high school diploma or less has steadily been decreasing since 2008, seen in Chart A below. The share of jobs requiring a post-secondary education is growing, prompting the City of Hampton to respond to this problem with the creation of the Academies of Hampton.

With 16 different academies and 44 unique pathways, the Academies of Hampton set students on a clear path post-graduation, either smoothly transitioning them into post-secondary college or directly into the workforce. High school students in Hampton have the rare opportunity connect their career to their curriculum. By nurturing their interests early on, schoolwork comes alive and students respond more positively to their assignments.

Regional Education: Jobs Requiring High School or Less

Chart A: Change in Jobs for Occupations Requiring High School Education or Less since 2007

Regional Program Highlight: Academies of Hampton

The significance of the Academies of Hampton is its drive to move beyond conventional “Tech Prep” with a concept of applying more than vocational training. The missing component of conventional Tech Prep is the lack of a “smooth transition from high school to post-secondary education.” Such attention to a transition to higher education is becoming more and more vital to address the growing needs of a modern workforce environment.

The Academies of Hampton was featured in Old Dominion University’s 2018 State of the Region report, highlighting the successes of the initiative. The vision of the Academies of Hampton is to drive post-secondary and workforce preparedness for high-demand, high-wage employment. District reform has contributed realized targets and successes. For example, Hampton City Schools’ has seen a three-year cumulative 600 percent increase in dual enrollment credit hours (2015-2016) and the lowest dropout rate in over a decade. Furthermore, Virginia colleges and universities have seen a spike in applications, above that of the regional average, from students who were Hampton City residents at the time of application, as seen below in Chart B.

Regional Education: First Time College Students

Chart B: Virginia College Entrance Applications from First-time in College Students

As the future demands a more technical workforce and Hampton Roads moves to increase its footprint of higher-wage occupations, a greater need is building for programs that propel skilled workers into the workforce pipeline. The Academies of Hampton is truly a community-driven initiative whose program of work is aimed at 21-century career preparation. Collaborative partnerships have been secured across the business community, post-secondary institutions, non-profits, and civic leadership to engage students at a pivotal decision period. For a robust summary and commentary of Hampton City School’s initiative, see Old Dominion University’s 2018 State of the Region Report.

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