Preparing Houston's tech workforce starts in school, says expert
Recent studies have shown that nearly half of students enter college with an undecided major and as many as 70 percent of students change their major at least once during their four-year program, and it is predicted that by 2030, there will be a deficit of 7.9 million tech workers alone.
In order to better prepare the future workforce, schools are encouraging career exploration through hands-on experience. The Village School has created educational partnerships throughout Houston to offer students options to find their interests and better prepare them for postsecondary success.
Students are prone to changing their majors because often they will go into a field with an impractical idea of what a specific career actually entails. With partnerships between education and industry, Houston is able to better equip students to enter college with a realistic view of what to expect in their major.
While career-focused partnerships are beneficial for students, they also play a huge role in recruiting valuable skilled talent for years to come. A good impression, good mentors and great experience goes a long way when students start job searching.
Tuning into Houston's workforce
High school is the time for students to explore different career options. When students are placed in an internship program as early as the high school level, they are able to see exactly what the day to day looks like while building a foundation of professional development as they start to think about their future. It's important for students to have a realistic vision of what a career looks like.
There are numerous businesses in Houston that are working with high school students to help them gain experience.
For example, a few of the businesses that have partnerships with The Village School include Houston Methodist Hospital, Pimcore, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, and Cisco. Students are able to gain experience in a variety of ways including:
- Working alongside surgical technicians and experience open-heart surgery and quarantined situations
- Learning from cancer researchers who study nicotine addiction in children and the effects on brain development
- Leveraging data analytics to develop software helping internal team members organize calendars at a leading SAP company
All students finished their internship with a better understanding of the workforce and the skills necessary to perform in a professional environment.
Finding opportunities for everyone
If students don't attend a high school that offers internships there are still opportunities to gain experience. Many businesses are open to job shadowing or having students volunteer a few hours a week to gain experience over the summer months. The opportunity for experience is out there and available and these opportunities will continue to grow and become more accessible for all students. Houston families and businesses must work together to ensure students know their options before entering college.
Educational partnerships benefit both students and the community. It's crucial for Houston to prepare the next generation's workforce to succeed and fill jobs with capable talent. Students are able to see that while they may not think they are interested in a specific field there are opportunities within the field that match their strengths and interests.
TeKedra Pierre is the internship coordinator at The Village School.