Courtesy of JCPS

Education, business and civic leaders on Tuesday celebrated a new approach that partners 11 Louisville high schools with businesses to better prepare students for skills essential for jobs, from nursing to carpentry and flying aircraft.

Jefferson County Public Schools leaders hope The Academies of Louisville better prepare students for life after high school, while employers want to introduce kids to career paths — and foster relationships that could help address workforce constraints.

Thirteen inaugural business partners, including Paradise Tomato Kitchens, Norton Healthcare and UPS, are partnering with 11 Academies of Louisville, established in August 2017 at 11 local high schools, including the Academy @ Shawnee, Jeffersontown and Waggener.

From the Class Act Federal Credit Union, students can learn skills needed to be a bank teller — and about financial literacy. Through Trilogy Healthcare, students are introduced to nursing skills and the business side of health care. The Building Industry Association provides information about all kinds of construction jobs, from carpentry to brick laying and welding. With the help of UPS and flight simulators, students can even finish high school with a pilot’s license.

In a JCPS video, some of the employers reiterated what the business community as a whole has said for years: Many high school graduates do not possess the skills needed for today’s job world, and the tight labor market is hampering economic development.

“Business is changing as technology is changing. Education is going to have to change, too,” said Nik Brazley, who handles business development at marketing firm New West Agency.

Trasee Whitaker, senior vice president of human resources at Masonic Homes of Kentucky, said partnerships between employers and schools are important for many reasons, especially in health care.

“There aren’t enough workers out there to fill the jobs that we have,” she said. “So we look for opportunities to link in with students that want to be part of health care, even (on the) operations side of things, like the horticulture program, like IT, and those kinds of things are really going to help us build our pipeline as a workforce and find employees that really share our values.”

JCPS said in a news release that the academy model includes “a personalized learning experience within a small learning community; participation in hands-on, project-based learning; development of 21st century essential skills; and community involvement.”

Acting Superintendent Marty Pollio said Tuesday that the academies’ hands-on learning would prepare all graduates for careers, college and life.

“What happens in our classrooms today impacts what happens in our world tomorrow,” Pollio said in the release.

Mayor Greg Fischer praised the effort as a boost to lifelong learning and encouraged more employers to get involved.

“This is an investment in your future, and in our city’s future,” he said.

Boris Ladwig is a reporter with more than 20 years of experience and has won awards from multiple journalism organizations in Indiana and Kentucky for feature series, news, First Amendment/community affairs, nondeadline news, criminal justice, business and investigative reporting. As part of The (Columbus, Indiana) Republic’s staff, he also won the Kent Cooper award, the top honor given by the Associated Press Managing Editors for the best overall news writing in the state. A graduate of Indiana State University, he is a soccer aficionado (Borussia Dortmund and 1. FC Köln), singer and travel enthusiast who has visited countries on five continents. He speaks fluent German, rudimentary French and bits of Spanish, Italian, Khmer and Mandarin.


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