Expanding career training opportunities for students

Expanding career training opportunities for students
Posted on 10/17/2022

Good evening!  

At the October 13th School Board meeting, there was a presentation that I would like to bring to your attention. It was about an exciting new initiative and opportunity for high school students. The presentation is called Career Planning, High School Credentialing Update, which is a part of this year’s Superintendent Goals, Domain 3.  The presenter was  Dr. Lisa Hoffman, the Assistant Superintendent for the Office of Teaching and Learning (OTL).  The purpose of the presentation was to update the Board and make the school community aware of the work that the high school teachers and its leadership team, along with OTL are working on.  Review of planned course statements, further discussion, and approval will be held at the October 27th Education Committee meeting, with potential final approval by the full Board of the new coursework for publication in the Quakertown Community High School Program of Studies, 2023-24.

The Administration’s recommendation for new coursework comes from the Bucks County Workforce Development Board’s jobs initiative list, and the special talents and credentials held by several teachers at QCHS.  The potential focus areas and related courses include: Education and Training, Protective Services (firefighting, EMT, etc.), Multimedia Communications, Video/Film Production, Engineering Technologies, General Agriculture/Horticulture, Culinary and Job-Seeking Skills (co-op education).  The coursework will be for rising 9th through 11th graders next year.  After the publication of the Program of Studies, 2023-24, students will have an opportunity to discuss their course interests at home with their parents and at school with their counselors.   

How did we get here?  Four-and-a-half years ago, as I was assuming the Superintendent of Record duties at Upper Bucks County Technical School, the Joint Operating Committee (Board members from the three sending districts, QCSD, Palisades and Pennridge) directed the new leadership of the school and me to change the reputation of the school.  The JOC felt attending UBCTS did not appeal to most high school students.  Fast forward to today, after a lot of hard work by UBCTS instructors and the school’s leadership team, along with the economy and job market, UBCTS is bursting at the seams with student enrollment. UBCTS is built for 720 students per day, while 868 are currently attending - 412 of them from Quakertown.  

In QCHS, there is an overwhelming demand by high school students for technical education and there is plenty of evidence that trend will only increase.  This fall, two-thirds of the 8th grade class has asked to tour UBCTS, up from 50% last year, and 20% the year before.  There are a myriad of reasons for the increased interest in technical education.  First, the local, state and national job market is thirsting for high school graduates with technical skills. All you have to do is drive down any commercial street or look in local newspapers (online) where there are job opportunities being advertised. There are not enough mechanics, plumbers, HVAC workers, and school teachers available to fill the demand.  Second, the starting wages our recent graduates from UBCTS have secured immediately after graduation is truly impressive.  Many of our newly minted UBCTS graduates start at salaries well above what many college graduates start at, and they have no debt. Third, during the 2014-15 school year, we started sending 9th graders to UBCTS, where they have the opportunity to be fully immersed and certified in a technical skill before graduation. Creating and refining student interest early in technical education fosters greater career opportunities after graduation. Lastly, more students see the rising cost of attending a four-year college or university and the debt accrued as the least favorable route for a career after graduation.

Doubling down on the data - there is a significant QCHS student demand for technical education, not enough seats at UBCTS for our students, and QCHS teacher interest in using their skill sets and talent to teach technical education credentialing courses.  These courses and credentialing programs would support and/or complement the programs already offered at UBCTS, not compete with them.  They will also provide experiences and credentials for students who want to also have access to other electives like band, choir, and orchestra at our high school. Our students will greatly benefit from the additional choices available to them.  More to follow on this initiative after the Board’s Education Committee meets on October 24th.  We are excited!

Thank you for reading.

Bill Harner


[email protected]


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