In 2008, the state of Alabama took an innovative step in its quest to better prepare students for workforce development-they developed a state-specific career planner for all eighth grade students. In February of this year, the second phase of this initiative began with the release of a new resource kit designed specifically for both middle school and high school students.
The Alabama SUCCESS Education and Career Planners are a series of fun, interactive guides created to assist students with graduation requirements and planning for their lives after high school. Each guide has great information on career opportunities, salaries, and recommendations for students to use in reaching their career goals. Each SUCCESS Kit contains a School Counselors' Guide, a Student Guide (both an English and Spanish version), 16 different career cluster booklets, a poster, and a DVD. Every Student Guide has an interest inventory to help students identify what they may enjoy doing as a career, contains a full description of Alabama's 16 career clusters, and has directions for creating an individualized "roadmap" for high school success.
The primary purpose of Alabama's SUCCESS guides is to connect what students are learning in the classroom with real-world careers and post-secondary learning opportunities. As stated by former Chancellor of the Alabama Community College System, Mr. Bradley Byrne, "The importance of career exploratory experiences and early exposure to the world of work for young students cannot be overstated. The more relevant the classroom becomes to ‘real life,' the more excited elementary and middle school students become about learning, staying in school, and choosing a solid career path."
All eighth grade students in Baldwin County will be given an opportunity to utilize the Education and Career Planners. In addition, middle school counselors will be provided professional development throughout the school year in an effort to better assist them with the effective implementation of this statewide initiative.
The need to incorporate career technical education with our core curriculum is paramount in our education and preparation of students. Consequently, there is a tremendous focus on workforce development for our students, and we are starting now-as early as the elementary grades-to help prepare our students for life after high school. We must expose our students to the world of opportunities that are available for them.
In addition, the state of Alabama has taken a major step toward making sure our students are prepared to face the workforce challenges of the future. By successfully implementing the Education and Career Planners with our eighth grade students, it is our intention to connect what students are learning in the classroom with real-world careers and post-secondary learning opportunities.