Workforce Florida: Middle School Students Earn Industry-Recognized IT Certifications
TALLAHASSEE - Middle school students from Career and Professional Education (CAPE) Academies in 15 school districts throughout Florida today were recognized by workforce and education leaders for earning Information Technology (IT) certifications issued by industry leaders such as Microsoft® and Adobe®. The students' schools were also applauded for creating and implementing CAPE academies in less than two years with technical assistance from Workforce Florida, Inc. - more than a year earlier than required by 2011 legislation. The ceremony took place at Griffin Middle School of the Leon County School District, one of the districts selected from a competitive application pool of more than 40.
"The success of these students and teachers demonstrates the possibilities when Florida's talent pipeline architects - its public and private education and workforce communities - work together, at the speed of business, to meet marketplace needs," said Workforce Florida President/CEO Chris Hart IV. "Whether they pursue higher education or go straight to work when they graduate, these students will enter the workforce better prepared to offer immediate value to employers and advance in their careers."
CAPE Academies provide rigorous and relevant career-focused courses that articulate to postsecondary-level coursework and lead to industry certification. Under the 2007 CAPE Act sponsored by Senate President Don Gaetz (R - Destin), each school district must have at least one high school CAPE Academy, established in partnership with business and workforce development leaders in the community. In 2011, the CAPE Act was expanded to require plans for at least one CAPE Academy at the middle school level in each district.
"These motivated young people represent the future of our state, and it is exciting to envision all that they and their fellow students will accomplish with the support of innovative partnerships and forward-thinking education models like Florida's CAPE Academies," said President Gaetz. "I applaud the educators, business leaders and workforce development professionals who are collaborating to ensure the success of CAPE Academies at giving our students a head-start on rewarding careers."
The Middle School IT Career Academies Technical Assistance Project is being implemented by The Whetstone Group, a youth-talent-development leader, using the LEAD Through Workforce Innovations Career Pathways/Academy model. Due in large part to the commitment and partnership of leaders from Florida's IT industry - including CCI Learning® and Certiport® - and education community as well as the Florida Chamber of Commerce and state agencies including the Department of Education and the Department of Economic Opportunity, the project focused on assisting participants through technical assistance rather than traditional grant funding. In addition to the technical assistance - which supports compliance with CAPE Act standards and reinforces the connection between CAPE academies and career-themed education, and the school district's economic and workforce drivers - the project offers students curricula provided by two of the world's leading digital literacy vendors - Microsoft® and Adobe®.
"In looking at state labor market information, it just makes sense to focus on Information Technology," said Jeff Scroggins, a Whetstone Group Principal. "These skills are foundational to many STEM occupations and support competitiveness across industry sectors which are vital to Florida's economy."
Participating Schools include: Bailey Middle School, Escambia County; Bradford Middle School, Bradford County; Challenger Middle School, Lee County; Creekside Middle School, Volusia County; Desoto Middle School, Desoto County; Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Twin Oaks Vocational Academy, Madison County; Golden Gate Middle School, Collier County; Griffin Middle School, Leon County; Green Cove Springs Junior High, Clay County; Murdock Middle School, Charlotte County; Pinellas Park Middle School, Pinellas County; Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School, Gulf County; Stuart Middle School, Martin County; Switzerland Point Middle School, St. Johns County; and W. R. Tolar K-8 School, Liberty County.
Since the beginning of the current school year, more than 90 students and about 25 teachers have earned industry-recognized IT certifications. About 1,400 students are enrolled in middle school IT CAPE Academies who received technical assistance through this initiative. For more information, please visit the project website designed by Web V students at Niceville High School in Niceville, Florida at www.middleschoolcareeracademytap.com.