Before the school closures, students in Camas School District are introduced to different career options.

By 2021, Washington will have over 740,000 job openings. And we have the talent right here at home to fill them. In an effort to fully support the career development needs of all of Southwest Washington’s youth, ESD 112 has realigned many of its services to form Career Connect Southwest Washington (CCSW). This network is dedicated to creating work-based and academic opportunities for young people to explore, learn, and earn money and college-level credit to prepare them for launching a career.

“We’re proud to be a part of this initiative working towards getting more kids college- and career-ready starting at a young age,” said Vickei Hrdina, ESD 112’s Director for Career Readiness and STEM Initiatives. “Our goal is to reach every single youth in Southwest Washington and connect them with meaningful experiences that help them identify more possibilities for a career after high school.”

Formerly known in the ESD 112 region as the Southwest Washington STEM Network, CCSW is one of nine regional Career Connected Learning networks under the larger Career Connect Washington. CCSW spans six counties, including Clark, Cowlitz, Klickitat, Pacific, Skamania and Wahkiakum. By connecting local businesses and educators in these communities, CCSW is helping to develop a skilled workforce resulting in a strong economic future for all of Southwest Washington.

Career Connected Learning is built on a framework that introduces a variety of career-related education opportunities and experiences for students as early as kindergarten. There are four stages of the framework:

  • Awareness – Career awareness happens in the classroom and is connected directly to student learning. Businesses support teachers by identifying real problems for students to solve.
  • Exploration – Includes career fairs, work site tours, flipped internships, and career panels in which businesses can support student learning by providing volunteers, space and time to support career exploration for local students.
  • Preparation – Includes internships and apprenticeships, both paid and for school credit, which are critical to help build social capital and transition from high school to career.
  • Launch – Career Launch is a certified partnership that partners students with an earn-as-you-learn opportunity. Businesses partner with higher education or other credentialing organizations to provide paid work experiences to students so they can obtain the training needed to make them a competitive candidate for career growth.

As part of the new program, ESD 112 has launched a new website with resources, information and learning opportunities. It’s a one-stop shop where students, educators and business and community partners can access the latest updates on career connected learning; resources for learning about Career Launch opportunities; ways for teachers to get engaged and access professional development courses; view work plans for businesses wanting to connect with students and classrooms; and find contacts for various Career Connected Learning activities.

CCSW events and learning are still going on, even while schools are closed. Opportunities for business and community partners to get involved include virtual career panels, mentorship and internship experiences, and project-based learning activities. For more information on how to get involved, contact Chad Mullen.