Pasco Economic Development Council | 16506 Pointe Village Drive, Suite 107 | Lutz, FL 33558

Career Academies And Better Education Are Key To A Strong Workforce

February 2, 2012

The State of Florida recently revealed that 85% of Pasco county high schools earned an A or B in its latest statewide public school appraisal.

“This is terrific news and shows real improvement,” says John Hagen, President/CEO of the Pasco Economic Development Council, Inc. "We’re headed in the right direction, and I have to think Career Academies have had a positive impact on these numbers.”

Rewind to 2009, when not a single high school received an A grade, and in 2010 only two earned an A.  Fast forward to 2011, and 6 out of 13 high schools earned an A, with five following close behind with a B. In addition, Pasco’s 2011 high school graduation rate tipped the charts at 88.5%, a record 8.4% higher than the state average. Career and Professional Academy students had a slightly higher GPA and were less likely to be chronically absent then non academy high school students.

Hagen is the new chair of the steering committee for Career Academies, a group of local stakeholders and business leaders who are working with school officials to improve Pasco County Schools Career Academies. The goal is to bring business and community leaders together to create more hands-on learning through enrichment opportunities such as job shadowing, mentoring, and internships for students. Pasco county’s Career Academies range from Business Management and Information Technology to Culinary Arts and Medical Professions.  These academies give students a real-world approach to learning and preparation for future careers.  Students earn industry recognized certifications that provide an edge in applying for jobs.  The academies have local business leaders excited.

“The implementation of Career Academies in Pasco county is one of the best things to happen to industry and workforce in our area,” says Bryan Kamm, Director of Business Development for the Bauer Foundation. “In our company, we operate very sophisticated equipment and need highly trained engineers and technicians.  We currently employ students from River Ridge High School Engineering and East Lake Engineering Career Academies. All businesses should take advantage of this great talent pool and resource pipeline and get involved.” 

Kamm went on to note that there is also a huge payoff in the academies for STEM education.  Improving STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, is a critical concern of the State Department of Education, as well as national business and education thought leaders. Tuesday, January 24, Hagen will be hosting a workshop on Career Academies and Business Partnerships in Pasco County, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in Sun Toyota's upstairs training room, with Rob Aguis Director of Career and Technical Education, Pasco County Schools and Jerome Salatino, President/CEO of the Pasco Hernando Workforce Board.  They hope to recruit and train a large cadre of business leaders who will adopt academies and work side-by-side with teachers and students to vault Pasco County Schools Career Academies to the first ranks of educational achievement.

Pasco EDC is a non-profit organization that promotes economic development in Pasco County, Florida.  Pasco EDC continues to be a strong partnership funded by corporate and public investors focused on the economic vitality of Pasco County.

Jennifer Lachtara
Jennifer Lachtara
Marketing/Communications Coordinator
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