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Catalyst: Career Acceleration Program prepares students for workforce

Catalyst: Career Acceleration Program prepares students for workforce

(July 12, 2022) Many students graduate high school lacking essential job skills and without realizing the variety of career pathways offered by local employers that are not typically associated with specific positions.

Through its Summer Career Acceleration Program (SCAP), the Pinellas Education Foundation (PEF) is helping 114 incoming seniors at 17 county high schools prepare for post-graduation job opportunities. The program is now in its third year and readies students for the workforce by combining paid summer internships, career skills training and a financial literacy workshop.

Dr. Stacy Baier, CEO of PEF, said the internships are much more than just sticking a kid at a reception desk or having them perform menial tasks.

“This is really about exposing students to the different departments within your business that help make your entire business run,” said Baier. “So that kids can get a little taste of finance, HR, communication, sales or customer service – whatever that business might entail.”

Baier said the school district and foundation’s commitment to preparing students for life after high school is unwavering, whether they plan on attending college, or technical programs, enlisting in the military or entering the workforce. While schools offer several academic programs to help students transition to the next chapter in life, Baier believes there is no substitute for on-the-job experience to help inform career decisions.

Over 30 public and private businesses and nonprofits, like the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), participate in the six-week program, which concludes July 15. Once an intern is selected, they are matched with employers through an in-depth interview process and work 20 hours per week while receiving a paid stipend.

Although the internships could reinforce a student’s interest in a career field, Baier said equally important to post-graduation success is helping them discover when a position is not the best fit. Continue reading…