By: Jamie Simmons
JP Taravella DECA today hosted a school-wide event called “Straight Outta High School,”to inspire juniors and seniors to consider a variety of emerging career options that will enable them to earn a good living without having to attend college.
More than 72 percent of the teen audience said they were more certain of their post-high school plans after having attended the event, which explained what a living wage is, introduced them to emerging, high-demand, good paying jobs, and showed them where they can receive training for these jobs in our local community.
Being a senior is a lot of pressure, it is very expensive and I was able to absorb more information about other choices out there. It was a relief to know that I do not have to spend so much money on college.” – Chelsea Castillo.
To kick off the day-long event, students engaged in a reality check where they discovered how much they must earn to make a living wage in South Florida. Then, they heard a number of presentations from business leaders who exposed them to emerging career options that many teens may never have heard of before. These included representatives from the building trades, financial services, high tech and automotive industries.
Following these presentations, students learned about training options from the three Broward Technical Colleges — Atlantic, McFatter and Sheridan –as well as from CareerSource Broward who explained how students can get financial support for a variety of training programs. Finally, students transitioned to the Taravella gymnasium where they interacted one-on-one with the guest speakers who set up exhibits to help students plan for their future careers.
Many students were inspired by the event. Chelsea Castillo, a senior at J.P. Taravella, said, “Being a senior is a lot of pressure, it is very expensive and I was able to absorb more information about other choices out there. It was a relief to know that I do not have to spend so much money on college.”
Said junior Kerstin Heiner, “It was an excellent eye-opener. There are so many chances out there, and students have no idea, and I include myself. After attending Straight Outta High School, I know about more opportunities, and I am so glad I went!”
Representatives from many different agencies were glad to participate, because they are interested in hiring qualified students into their business or industry. Speaker Adam Gurewicz, a Realtor with Remax Advisors said, “Students should be aware that there are options besides getting a four year college degree that can lead to successful careers.” He was among 13 industry and technical school representatives who spoke to students about emerging careers and training programs to prepare them for these careers.
The project name, “Straight Outta High School,” was inspired by the name of the hit movie “Straight Outta Compton,” and was intended to attract the attention of students who may not be college-bound, and who may not have much of an idea of what they’ll do after high school. A large majority of students at Taravella, and across the nation, lack the grades and motivation needed to pursue a four-year degree, and with no set career path to follow, find themselves floundering after graduation. At the same time, there are many companies who would gladly hire these students if they possessed the necessary skills. The result is a skills gap between unemployed adults and companies needing skilled employees.
DECA students first learned about the concept of a skills gap from a speech given by First Lady Michelle Obama. The skills gap is affecting our national economy as many people lack the skills and education needed to fill open and necessary jobs. This is where Career and Technical Education (CTE) can really make a difference, because even though these jobs don’t require a college education, they do demand training.
DECA is an international organization that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management in high schools and colleges around the globe. J. P. Taravella has a chapter of 340 marketing and finance students as part of a 200,000 international organization.
Jamie Simmons is the Marketing and Personal Finance Teacher/DECA Advisor and 2012-2013 JPT Teacher of the Year