Tech-savvy students at Edison High School are now taking advantage of pre-apprenticeship opportunities which can benefit them beyond graduation.
Leah Eft, career pathways specialist, said a group of seven seniors and three sophomores currently serve on a leadership program and assist the district technology department with repairs and issues on school equipment. Anyone in grades 9-12 who is interested may apply and complete a brief training session, after which members are selected to participate as tech leaders. But now they can earn certification while also meeting graduation requirements, which then could lead to careers in the tech field. In addition to repairing equipment, Eft said tech leader Aiden Ferguson has also assisted her with formatting scheduling cards and offering some guidance.
“During this time, I was able to assess soft-skill capabilities and discuss the work he was doing. It is a great opportunity to help the kids and for the kids to help us. It has been a fun and collaborative effort with our own students. Not only Aiden, but the entire group is a stellar group of student leaders. Our goal is to be poised to place these leaders into the community as soon as possible.”
The tech leadership initiative paved the way for seniors participate in a new pre-apprenticeship program through Apprentice Ohio and the Ohio Department of Education and will help them earn certifications through Acer and Microsoft and aid them as they establish computer-based careers. Eft added that remote jobs will be provided through Apprenti, a program which creates alternative pathways to access tech talent and help organizations address digital skills shortages, but she also hoped to contact local companies for assistance.
“We saw how technology was ever-expanding and they will need experience. Very serendipitously, the state changed graduation criteria and added this student pre-apprenticeship program,” Eft explained. “It took 1 ½ years to complete the application process with the state and we worked with the tech department and Apprenti. The students have a pathway to an actual apprenticeship and it will be a pathway to a career.”
She also collaborated with Matthew Longfellow, apprenticeship service provider through the ODJFS’s Office of Workforce Development on the plan and calls her first group of students “trailblazers,” saying graduates-to-be can use it as an option.
“One senior who has been in jeopardy will now meet graduation requirements and has flourished through the program. I can definitely see this becoming their career.”
She continued that Edison provides many tech-based courses to prepare students for high-tech careers such as Interactive Media, which is a combination of information technology (IT) and media. Students who have been selected for internships by a registered apprenticeship participating employer can enroll in the program. Enrollments for the present school year must be submitted to Jeanette McClain of the ODJFS by April 1 and Apprentice Ohio will produce completion certificates prior to graduation.
Current participants include seniors Aiden Lawrence, Aiden Ferguson, Logan Gubanez, Ryan Dinger, Caleb Piatt, Dylan Barker and Anna Wadas who are job ready. Many of them noted excited about the opportunity.
“I’ve always enjoyed technology,” said Aiden Ferguson. “I plan to attend West Liberty University for Computer Integrated Science (CIS) and I will use what I’ve learned here to continue on in life.”
“We work with [district Technology Coordinator Rachael Granatir and Assistant Coordinator Tyler Roush] when we started and now are into the help desk. We are able to collect Chromebooks and fix them or replace them,” added Dylan Barker. “It gives insight on what you can do on a daily basis and what I’ll be dealing with in the future.”
“I want to work with technology,” added Caleb Piatt, adding that the tech leadership program and pre-apprenticeship help him gain experience.
“I think it taught me a lot and I’ve done a lot of work with Rachael in the past. It has helped a lot and I think it gives insight to see if it’s the right thing to do.”