IMG_3752Career pathways, building stronger bridges between education and employment, is an increasingly cited best practice in adult education. In preparation for the 2015-16 school year, teachers, counselors and employment specialists at the Carlos Rosario School participated in an interactive workshop with adult education and career pathways expert, Dr. Heide Wrigley.

The goal was to highlight new trends in workforce development and to foster an even stronger collaboration between the school’s student support staff and teachers to strengthen the connections between classroom content and employment.

Culinary Arts Career Training Instructor Mariano Ramos said, “Integrated instruction is really important. We need to develop students’ language skills as much as their cooking skills. And even beyond that their employability skills.”

The workshop featured learning activities that could be directly applied in the English language learner classroom and modified based on students’ ability. These activities were aimed at helping students at all English levels talk about their skills and background related to what employers are looking for in the workplace.

At the workshop teachers and support staff discussed ways to meet the employment needs and goals of the school’s array of student backgrounds ranging from foreign born professionals-doctors and lawyers- to those coming to the school with an interrupted elementary school education.

The school’s employment specialists shared with teachers what employers are looking for in today’s market and how they prepare students for things like job interviews. This is key for teachers to help students build key vocabulary and to simulate relevant employment scenarios in the classroom.

Employment specialist Alelign Dessie said of the workshop, “It offers an opportunity to see how we can collaborate more to identify the real needs of students and to reach them where they are.”

In 2012 the Carlos Rosario School started a health career pathway program that includes lower level ESL health classes that build foundational knowledge and vocabulary, and a higher level ESL class co-taught by a nurse and an ESL teachers through which students earn a nurse aide certification. Looking ahead, the school is developing career pathways programs in other high-demand, high-growth industries.