East Hawaii News

Hawai’i Earns Grant for Improvement of Youth Career Preparation

March 30, 2016, 11:12 AM HST
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career prep PIXABAYA $100,000 grant to develop a detailed career readiness action plan has been awarded to the Hawai’i State Department of Education.

DOE officials made the announcement on Wednesday, noting that the program is an essential step to expanding economic opportunities across the state for young people.

“This grant will go a long way in building upon the various partnership projects that are focused on preparing our students for the workforce,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We’re seeing positive results throughout our high schools as students create their path towards college and careers. Partnerships and grants like this are essential in our efforts and we’re excited to expand on our collective initiatives to help students achieve their goals.”

The New Skills for Youth grant was awarded to 24 states and the District of Columbia. In addition to funds, the grant includes technical assistance to perform a diagnostic assessment of career preparation systems and prepare for implementation of a new action plan.

Funding for the grants are part of a $75 million, five-year initiative that was developed by JPMorgan Chase, in partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers and Advance CTE. The goal of the initiative is to increase economic opportunities for young people through strengthening career-focused education, beginning in high school.

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In Hawai’i, the DOE will use the grant to begin a needs assessment to determine program strengths and necessary improvements. Eventually, a new three-year career readiness action plan will be developed to set goals and targets toward providing students equitable access to career pathway opportunities, along with the identification and allocation of resources.

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“States across the country are adjusting their career readiness programs to ensure they adequately prepare students for their next step after graduation,” said Chris Minnich, executive director of CCSSO. “States have seized this grant opportunity to pursue bold plans for pathways that will put kids on a course for success after high school and beyond.”

According to CCSSO, only about half of young Americans have a meaningful postsecondary credential that enables them to compete for good jobs, and the U.S. youth unemployment rate is more than double the national rate.

Youth unemployment rates in Hawai’i for ages 16 to 19 was 13 percent. The number was seven percent for 20 to 25-year-olds.  This is compared to the state’s overall 3.7 percent unemployment rate for its entire labor force.

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“We must address the youth career crisis, and it starts in our schools,” said Chauncy Lennon, Head of Workforce Initiatives at JPMorgan Chase. “These grants kick start an effort to ensure career and technical education systems are better aligned with the needs of business and leaders throughout states are committed to tackling youth employment.”

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