The wall of a maker space

photo: Ben Filio

Innovations That Help Learners Prepare for the Future of Work: Marita’s Favorites from the HundrED Spotlight on Pittsburgh

As the working group lead for Remake Learning’s Future of Work Collaborative, I’m always looking for the educators in our region who are preparing their students for the future. In a rapidly changing economy, we must reimagine and redefine what career readiness looks like and expand options for post-secondary education. This means creating robust learning pathways for students that help them explore who they are, what they want to be, and how they’re going to get there.

As I reviewed the 82 innovations submitted to the HundrED Spotlight on Pittsburgh, I was pleased to see many projects that are doing just that. School districts, summer camps, after-school programs, and non-profits from across the Pittsburgh region are preparing our young people with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to make their own futures. By partnering with local employers, rethinking the school day, and following the lead of the students themselves, these innovations are models to pay attention to as we look to the decades ahead.

Here are my favorites from the HundrED Spotlight submissions:

For students at Winchester Thurston School, the entire city is part of the campus—students work alongside community members to address pressing issues through real-world experiences.

Students at Northgate High School can earn college credit for all of their core academic courses and many electives. Some students can even earn a full associate’s degree just by taking classes at their high school.

The Emerging Leaders Program at Human Services Center Corporation works directly in schools with high school seniors to help them prepare for college and career through one-on-one meetings, mock interviews, job shadows, college application help, and more.

When you give young people a real-world challenge, they rise to meet the opportunity. Energy Innovation Center Design Challenges, a partnership between high school students and local businesses, tasks students with solving real design challenges with the advice and guidance of local experts.

When two first-grade girls expressed a desire to use their creative skills to raise money for local non-profits, JAM was born. This after-school making program has raised thousands of dollars for local charities by making and selling crafts and gifts right in their school’s makerspace.

Students at South Fayette High School can take two semesters of leadership courses and earn college credits through a partnership with the University of Pittsburgh.

Can maker learning put students on the path to a bright future? The Oakland Planning and Development Corporation has two programs that do just that. One connects youth to industry professionals while equipping them with lessons in public speaking, resume writing, and planning for the future. Another provides academic support and career exploration opportunities to at-risk youth.

Portal 2 the World is a platform that enables educators and learners to virtually travel around the world to learn a new language using games and virtual reality.

PHASE 4 Learning Center offers an alternative way to graduate high school for at-risk or disadvantaged students, setting them on a new path for personal and career growth.

Every student at Nazareth Prep participates in a real-world, paid internship as part of their regular coursework. Students spend one day per week from September to May at local employers completing tasks and projects typical of entry-level employees.

Can playing video games help students explore their career choices? The Simcoach Skill Arcade from Simcoach Games is a collection of free games that engage youth about the interests, aptitudes, and careers available to them.

Students work in teams to design, prototype, build, brand, and market products of their own creation through Startable Pittsburgh, a teen-focused program of a local startup accelerator.

Student Powered Solutions, a program of the Consortium for Public Education, connects students to local businesses and helps them use project-based learning and human-centered design principles to develop innovative solutions to the real-world problems faced by the businesses.

The Remake Learning Future of Work Collaborative seeks to bridge gaps between schools, career and technical education centers, and employers to ensure that each and every student is prepared for the future of work. If you’re looking for a sense of how the Pittsburgh region is doing that, I would strongly recommend reading about the innovations above. And you can explore all 82 submissions to the Pittsburgh HundrED Spotlight here.