Career readiness is a little easier at schools like Aviation High
One of the most cutting-edge high school programs in the country is 80 years old, and it teaches students in the heart of one of the world’s busiest airports, NPR notes in a new profile of the program.
Aviation High School is based in Long Island but it has a smaller campus within New York City’s John F. Kennedy Airport, where students study in classrooms attached to the airport and out among the planes, working alongside a technician or engineer doing paid internships with major airlines.
“Since airplanes are full of complicated systems that require physics and math, the students often get to try out concepts they’ve learned in the classroom: coordinates, angles, rotation,” NPR noted.
“We are also one of the top schools academically in our state despite the fact that 65 percent of our students come from homes below the poverty level and 90 percent are first-generation Americans,” principal Deno Charalambous told Flying Magazine last year.
Pathways out of American high schools and into the workforce or higher education have long been murky for many kids, particularly those whose parents did not attend college.
“One hurdle facing kids leaving high school is that we offer little useful information on pathways between career programs and jobs,” Mary Alice McCarthy, a policy analyst at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C., told the Deseret News in 2014.
Building bridges across those chasms has been a growing concern. One model is offered by Cristo Rey high schools, as outlined by the Deseret News last year, a network of Catholic schools that require students to work one day a week in an office, building networks and workplace maturity that seems to pay off whether the students go straight to college or into the workforce.
Some of the most interesting paths have been apprenticeships that take kids out of high school or, like the Aviation school at JFK, create a seemless bridge between work and high school. Some of the most interesting work here has been done in South Carolina, as NPR reports.
Wharton management professor Peter Cappelli told Knowledge@Wharton last week that many employers still shun apprenticeship programs because they want to hire “people who are already trained and skilled.”
“Employers [in the U.S.] gave up on training,” Cappelli said. “They thought they didn’t have to, and for a while it looked like they didn’t have to — because you could hire the people you wanted who already had experience someplace else. That works OK until everybody has that. And then it stops working.”