With enrollment growing in work-study programs and other curriculum designed to prepare high school students for life beyond the classroom, the Georgia Department of Education has unveiled a series of gold seals to be stamped on the diplomas of graduates who are considered “career-ready.”
“We think this is a very positive step for a lot of our students,” said Kevin Bales, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning for the Hall County School District. “Absolutely, our schools will be involved.”
The number of students enrolled in work-based learning courses in Hall County schools grew to 560 in 2017 from 260 in 2008.
According to the GDOE, the seals provide “an additional recognition, layered onto the regular high school diploma, for students with exceptional accomplishments in activities, courses and experiences that foster career readiness.”
The Career Ready Diploma Seal is one of five seals that can be layered onto the regular high school diploma; seals are also available in civic engagement, fine arts, bi-literacy and international skills.
Setting a career path
Six versions of the Georgia Department of Education’s Career Ready seal are available, each tailored to specific career-related experiences and accomplishments:
Employability/Soft Skills Seal
Distinguished Employability/Soft Skills Seal
Pathway Skills Seal
Distinguished Pathway Skills Seal
Leadership Skills Seal
Distinguished Leadership Skills Seal
Source: Georgia Department of Education
“It will be a signal to their future employers that they are ready to participate in the workforce,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said in a press release. “This is part of a broader effort to recognize students with skills that go above and beyond traditional academics, students who have truly shown they are ready for life.”
Gainesville City Schools currently recognizes the fine arts seal and will begin awarding the career-ready diploma seal, which has six versions, this academic year.
About 22 percent of Gainesville High graduates in 2017 completed a career-related work-based learning program or career-related Capstone Project.
“As we move into a new strategic plan and preparing our students for the future, every junior or senior should be prepared for the next phase in their life,” Superintendent Jeremy Williams said. “Whether we support our students through career pathways, work-based learning, dual enrollment, advanced placement or other post-secondary experiences, we will be structuring programs to ensure every child is career-ready after graduation.”
The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce has worked for years to connect high school students with local businesses to prepare them for the kinds of vocational skills needed in manufacturing and other industries.
“This new Career Ready identification may prove to be the most valuable addition to the necessary high school diploma,” said Shelley Davis, vice president of existing Industry at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. “Employers will be pleased to know that a graduate has taken advantage while still in high school to be recognized for soft skills and work-based learning.”