Priming The Pipeline For The St. Louis Region - Creating A Future High Technology Workforce
Ranken Technical College is partnering with the Saint Louis Public Schools, the Saint Louis Regional Business Council, and St. Louis for Kids to implement this "Priming the Pipeline" project. The project is providing a continuum of educational opportunities for students, beginning in middle school and continuing through the attainment of at least a 2-year Associate Degree and successful job placement in a high technology field, or transfer to a 4-year Bachelor Degree program. The project activities include coordination of science, math and technology-based experiences for middle school students through summer academies and other extra-curricular activities, a dual high school-college enrollment educational program, summer internship experiences in business and industry for secondary school students, a program to allow disconnected youth to revive their educational opportunities, integrated work-based learning components that include an apprenticeship program to create pathways to employment, and professional development for secondary school educators. Through the offering of this coordinated set of activities and opportunities for students and teachers, the project is working towards accomplishment of the following objectives: 1) motivating a significant number of disadvantaged students (middle school and high school grades) to pursue an education in high technology-related occupations; 2) providing an effective peer and professional mentoring program for participating students that promotes academic and personal achievement; 3) establishing a high school-to-college academic bridge program in STEM-related technical disciplines that effectively encourages educational advancement and achievement leading to AAS and BS degrees, and to industry-recognized certifications; 4) developing a registered internship and apprenticeship program that provides opportunities with St. Louis area industries, and that is centered on job-related competencies that lead to enhanced placement opportunities; 5) developing a cadre of secondary school teachers who demonstrate improved STEM teaching skills; and 6) increasing the number of individuals who will ultimately be prepared to join a highly qualified workforce serving St. Louis area high tech companies.
By focusing on economically disadvantaged students from underrepresented groups in STEM, this project is expanding the pool of participants who are qualified for the many excellent careers available to trained technicians, particularly in the fields of biotechnology and advanced manufacturing, which are key growth industries in the St. Louis area. The project is replicating, extending, and enhancing various projects successfully conducted by other educational institutions, including Central Virginia Community College, Arizona State University, and Idaho State University, and in doing so is bringing together individuals and organizations in St. Louis with proven commitment and expertise to collaborate to ensure student success. This project is situated in a low-income, high minority urban setting, and has the potential to serve as a model for how to achieve long range effects that eliminate or mitigate some of the cyclical realities of generational poverty and low educational achievement.