Association News

Building Career Pathways for Students in Jefferson County: A Partnership of JCEA, Colorado Building and Construction Trades, and JeffCo Public Schools

Oct 16, 2017

In late 2015, the President of the Jefferson County Education Association (JCEA), John Ford, saw the deep need of preparing students for multiple career pathways. State policies had been changed to focus more on career readiness and secondary pathways for students in school. John recognized that careers in construction were a great career pathway for students, but many students in Jefferson County did not have access to Career and Technical Education (CTE) outside of Warren Tech’s facilities. Through community relationships, John Ford approached the Denver Area Labor Federation (DALF), the Colorado Building and Construction Trades Council (CBCTC), and CBCTC registered apprenticeship programs to find a pathway to partnership for students in high school to receive instruction to prepare them for the construction industry. CBCTC had an apprenticeship readiness curriculum that had been placed in high schools across the nation, and the CBCTC registered apprenticeships were excited to participate in the implementation and instruction for students. After these initial conversations, the coalition decided to approach the school district to find a way to implement this program in a high school with limited access to CTE.

Working with JeffCo Public Schools administration and School Board Member Ron Mitchell, in early 2016, the coalition presented the opportunity for the partnership and placement of the curriculum into a high school. With overwhelming support from the current school board, the coalition worked to determine which high school would work for this pilot program with the goal for the program to begin in the 2017-2018 school year. Arvada High School was selected for this pilot program because Warren Tech was able to provide a certified CTE instructor, and the high school had an existing wood shop facility.

Working together, the first classes of students are participating in the program at Arvada High School for the 2017-2018 school year. The students are receiving classroom instruction related to the construction industry, including math, science, and industry knowledge. They will receive safety certifications and CPR-First Aid. Additionally, the apprenticeship programs are providing hands-on project-based learning related to the students’ classroom instruction. These students are receiving the best possible preparation to enter an apprenticeship or a construction career post-graduation. So far, the program caters to nearly 20 students with the hope that it will continue to grow in the future. Community collaboration with JCEA, JeffCo Public Schools, and JeffCo Public School Board members, has helped to create an incredible opportunity for the schools our students deserve.