As fall approaches, more than 30,000 high school students in the One Acadiana region will head back to school. These students are preparing for different kinds of jobs and will eventually form the backbone of the region’s workforce. Yet many students lack knowledge about which high-wage, high-demand jobs they should consider or the educational requirements needed to obtain these jobs.
Business leaders often ask how they can get involved with schools. In a similar vein, teachers wonder how to connect classroom learning to the world of work. The simple answer is for business experts to share their knowledge directly with students while building awareness of career options. The simple solution, however, can become complicated for industries like manufacturing where mixing students and machinery is not an option. Moreover, many employers want their best employees to talk to students, yet feel it would take too much time for those employees to go to a school.
To solve these types of problems, One Acadiana has partnered with Nepris to bring education and industry together. The Acadiana Career Awareness Platform, powered by Nepris, is a cloud-based social platform that helps teachers find and connect with industry professionals in Louisiana and around the world to bring real-world relevance to the classroom.
While developing 1A’s Regional Workforce Development Strategy, employers suggested that their entry-level employees lack exposure to a variety occupational opportunities and awareness about the education needed to move up the career ladder. Chris Schouest, General Counsel and Director of Business Development at Schilling Distributing Company, LLC stated, “We need to address the stigma about blue-collar occupations. These are stable jobs with great benefits.” Regardless of the field students will enter, James Debaillon, Senior Consultant at CGI, noted that “exposing our younger generation to technology is key to sustaining a workforce capable of supporting the future development of a diverse economy in Acadiana.” The Nepris platform provides a virtual platform for industry to interact with students and encourage career exploration in growing fields.
“Exposing our younger generation to technology is key to sustaining a workforce capable of supporting the future development of a diverse economy in Acadiana.”
Bridging the Gap
Nepris user Robin Olivier, Director of Career and Technical Education for the Lafayette Parish School System, notes that “expanding occupational exposure for K-12 students helps open their eyes to possible careers and what they need to do to get there. We’re excited to partner with industry.” There are three main ways that industry professionals can use the Acadiana Career Awareness Platform to engage with educators.
1. First, industry professional can offer virtual “chats” on a topic of their choosing from their desktop to classrooms around the region. Multiple classrooms can listen in and ask questions.
2. Second, professionals can view and respond to teacher requests for a speaker on a specific topic. Under this scenario, the industry professional will virtually speak about the topic requested by the teacher with one classroom at a time chosen by the teacher.
3. Third, industry professionals can act as mentors and listen to students virtually describe their career preparation. This one-on-one interaction allows the professional to give targeted advice to a student about their education and career choices. Brandon Kelly, Vice President and Community Reinvestment Act Officer at Home Bank, describes his Nepris chat as “a great and fun experience. I felt like I connected with the students. They were engaged, asked some insightful questions of me and my staff and I believe they walked away with new knowledge.”
“A great and fun experience. I felt like I connected with the students. They were engaged, asked some insightful questions of me and my staff and I believe they walked away with new knowledge.”
Getting on Board
There are benefits to both employers and teachers beyond the convenience of virtually connecting with classrooms. Through the Nepris platform, Acadiana employers can help build their industry brand, eliminate travel or logistical costs incurred from employees visiting schools, and reduce concerns about insurance during student visits. For teachers in rural areas, the platform allows them to find speakers for their classroom that would have been unlikely to travel to speak to a class. In a time of increased focus on testing and accountability, virtual guest speakers provide schools with the ability to provide real-world connections without disrupting learning in other classes. All classrooms benefit from the expert perspective and real-world experience that industry professionals bring to the classroom. The possibilities are endless.
Signing up for Nepris is easy
1) Go to https://oneacadiana.nepris.com/
2) Sign up for a free account
3) Browse the platform and set up an industry chat
If you would like someone to speak with your staff about participating in an industry chat, please contact Anna at Anna@OneAcadiana.org.