Preparing students for the workforce

Posted On March 26, 2024

We know, or by now we should know, that going to college isn’t the only path toward a good-paying and rewarding career. But many blue-collar industries are still in dire need of new employees who are ready to work, who will show up on time, and who have the skills to hit the ground running.

Our guests in a recent episode of “What’s Working with Cam Marston” will be leading a school designed to produce just those kinds of employees. Baldwin Preparatory Academy is a career tech school opening in Loxley, Alabama, that will prepare students for the workforce.

“All industry partners we’ve talked to have said they hire these young kids that come to work, but they don’t know how to work,” said Baldwin Prep Principal Adam Sealy. “They don’t know how to clock in, clock out. They don’t know how to show up on time. They don’t know how to collaborate, so we’re building a school that will teach those skills. So by the time they’ve done 10th, 11th, and 12th grade, if they get a Baldwin Prep diploma, our employers will know that these kids have the skills to come to work.”

Career tech schools are nothing new, even in Baldwin County, Alabama, where this school is located. But Baldwin Prep Career Technical Education Coordinator Eric West said Baldwin County Public Schools’ career tech facilities were outdated, and he and Sealy went around the country to see how career tech courses were being taught in other states.

The model they came back with will abandon classrooms with rows of desks in favor of “pods” that will encourage collaboration, helping students learn how to work together to accomplish tasks.

“In education for years, we have said or we have thought when a student is looking on another person’s paper, that’s cheating,” Sealy said. “But industry calls it teamwork.”

Students’ work will still be graded, however, and each will get their turn as the “project manager” on projects and assessments, leaving little opportunity for slacking off.

The school will offer dual enrollment courses that will allow students to earn college credit, and will offer opportunities to earn industry credentials in a wide range of fields that will help them get a job.

Sealy and West said they have no doubt that jobs will be waiting for Baldwin Prep graduates. And they already know that students are eager to learn these skills. After expecting to open with about 250 students, they’ve received over 1,400 applications.

“The demand is there,” Sealy said. “The kids want to be there.”

Categories: Blog, Education, What's Working with Cam Marston