State education officials are set to pitch a proposal that would allow students in four pilot school districts — including Manchester — to enter an apprenticeship program after they graduate from high school.
The New Hampshire Department of Education has a request in to the Executive Council seeking approval of a program in Conway, Hinsdale, Laconia, and Manchester that would use $1.7 million in federal Out-of-School Time Pathway Grant funds to develop expanded learning programs.
The programs, administered by the New Hampshire Learning Initiative, would give students the opportunity to earn “a recognized postsecondary credential” at the conclusion of an apprenticeship, according to paperwork submitted to the council by New Hampshire Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut.
Students in the four pilot districts could work with G.S. Precision in Brattleboro, Vt.; Eastern Slopes Aviation in Maine; the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire in Londonderry; EPTAM Precision Solutions in Northwood; and Graphicast in Jaffrey. The program would pick up the cost of internships and apprenticeships with those firms, according to the proposal.
The four school districts are referred to as “pilot schools” in the initial paperwork, but Edelblut hints at a potential expansion of the initiative to other schools if it proves successful.
“The proposed initiative will include four core school districts that share characteristics encompassing rural schools, urban challenges, low-socio-economic status, and high need for business and industry connections between schools and local industries,” documents show. “Additional districts involved in the Future Learning Pathways project, Performance Assessment for Competency Education initiative, and Transportable Work and Success Skills (NH Work Study Practices) work will comprise a supported networked innovation collaborative to support scaling of this proposal’s implementation.”
The proposal appeared as an item on the agenda for the Sept. 1 Executive Council meeting. That session was postponed after Gov. Chris Sununu announced he had flu-like symptoms. After a bleeding ulcer put the governor in the hospital Friday, he was discharged from Portsmouth Hospital on Saturday.
New Hampshire was one of four states in the country to receive a $2,943,000 federal grant through the U.S. Department of Education earlier this year to help expand access to career pathway opportunities and prepare students for careers in STEM-oriented fields.
The New Hampshire Out-of-School-Time Career Pathways Initiative is a collaboration between the New Hampshire Department of Education, Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Center programs (21st CCLC) and the New Hampshire Learning Initiative (NHLI).
“This is a great example of a public-private partnership in which we align the interests of government, non-profit and business communities to benefit New Hampshire students,” Edelblut said in a statement at the time. “These are the types of creative and innovative opportunities that will provide students and teachers alike the opportunity to grow and expand their horizons.”
Over the five-year program period, the initiative will build the capacity of the four districts to deliver on supporting students to complete an industry-recognized credential for remote work, supporting students to complete STEM-related industry-recognized credentials chosen from a range of approved options, and supporting students to complete paid internships in an in-demand STEM-related work-based learning opportunity with a local employer.
Additionally, students in grades 6 through 8 in each district will have opportunities in a developmentally appropriate career learning opportunity and all districts will work toward a career assessment process for all students at least twice during their K-12 learning journey.
“New Hampshire businesses at the forefront of high-tech research and innovation are especially in need of more skilled workers, which highlights why this federal funding is such an important investment,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH said in a statement at the time. “As our state continues its economic recovery from COVID-19, these programs can play an important role by equipping students with the skills, knowledge and opportunities they need to find good-paying jobs.”