Linked Learning’s impact on our community

Dr. Gabe Soumakian, headshot.
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Today’s business leaders are asking how do we compete and win the battle in a rapidly changing global 21st-century economy as we close the “skills gap” for our new workforce?
More importantly, how will business and community leaders step up their involvement and work as partners to create innovative and creative work-based learning models through systemic changes to prepare students for the 21st century.

Many California students are not getting the resources and training they need to succeed in the workforce, thus they have a difficult time finding a job.

Nationwide, 40 million of the 50 million new jobs being created over the next decade will require at least two years of additional education or training beyond high school. This has prompted California to lead the way nationally in developing a new perspective for educating students to be college and career ready by providing real-world connections with business through industry-related pathways combining academic with real-life skills.

Each pathway centers on increased student proficiency in vital areas such as critical thinking, problem solving, media and information literacy, and collaboration — essential skills in the workplace and success in college.

The good news is that a high school transformation approach called Linked Learning addresses this need in Camarillo, Oxnard and Port Hueneme by offering students an engaging, relevant education that better prepares them for college and career. The Oxnard Union High School District school board in 2011 adopted the Blueprint for Greatness, which calls for Linked Learning as its reform strategy to lead the district into the future.

Linked Learning prepares all high school students for a full range of post-graduation opportunities and is designed to prepare students to meet the Common Core Standards and the A-G college requirements while participating in a career pathway.

These real-world learning opportunities in Linked Learning are tied to our state’s and region’s priority industries like engineering, performing arts, health care, law and more, and we’re proud to be helping to show students the possibilities in a variety of these areas through our academies and pathways in the district.

Many business leaders are choosing to become involved as a way of investing in their community and in their future workforce.

Through Linked Learning pathways, students choose a topic to inform their curriculum (such as engineering or health care) and apply their classroom knowledge in a practical, “real-world” setting with oversight and guidance from mentors and through internship programs.

Businesses in Ventura County such as Haas, Alcoa, Dignity Health, Union Bank, BLT Enterprises and SunPower have partnered with the district to provide students an opportunity to go beyond the classroom.

One example is the design of the new Rancho Campana High School that had its groundbreaking ceremony Saturday. The curriculum will provide a wall-to-wall career pathway focused on entertainment and digital media, medical and health science, and an engineering program in a rigorous college preparatory academic setting.

Linked Learning has proved to increase graduation and college-going rates. Students who have interned as part of their preparation are often offered part- or full-time employment following high school graduation, allowing young adults to earn more after high school, and giving them an advantage in the labor market. Linked Learning only works with the help and support of businesses in our community partnering with education.

Please join me along with the local chambers of commerce to support our initiative. Together we can help build a strong workforce that will support and sustain our local economy.

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