Career Academies are career-themed schools within high schools, in which the learning environment reflects the atmosphere and expectations of the 21st century workplace. The Chamber and public school districts have worked for many years studying successful career academy models across the country and planning a program here. Today, Career Academies are available in high schools throughout the region in the following areas*:
- Science, Technology, Engineering and Math
- Business and IT
- Health sciences
*Broad Academy themes may include several career programs; i.e. a STEM Academy may include computer programming, automotive technology and engineering. Additional academy areas will be added in the future as high demand occupations and skill gaps occur.
The Chamber and the Berkeley County and Dorchester District 2 School Districts piloted seven career academies in five high schools during the 2013/2014 academic school year. A total of 21 business partners were involved in the pilot year. A debriefing session was held in May 2014 with the academies, school districts and business partners to evaluate the pilot year results. Feedback was unanimous the pilot year was a success and all agreed to move forward with full implementation.
In August 2015, the programs expanded to include Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester School Districts and includes 60+ Career Academies in 21 area high schools now operating with more than 140 Academy Business Partners.
If your company would like to learn more about becoming involved in Career Academies, contact Robin Willis at 843.805.3031.
Why Career Academies?
Studies consistently show positive outcomes for students enrolled in career academies, including:
- Increased graduation rates
- Improved attendance
- Lower dropout rates
- Increased participation in volunteer and extracurricular activities
- Higher postsecondary enrollment
- Higher earnings after graduation
- Emphasis on project- and inquiry-based instruction, internships and work-based learning, industry certifications and opportunities to earn college credit through dual enrollment
- Teams of teachers work together to integrate academic content and career/technical education
The Chamber’s role is to engage business partners in the Career Academies. Business partners provide time and talent to help expand students’ knowledge of career opportunities in the region and the skills that are needed, help teachers better connect curriculum and real-world application and help to ensure what is being taught in the classroom is relevant to current job demands.