New program aims to put K-12 students on career path
Students in Arizona can plan their path to career success on MyFutureAZ, a new online program that gives equitable access to information about educational programs, job requirements, and career opportunities throughout the state.
MyFutureAZ is the collaborative brainchild of PipelineAZ and the Arizona Department of Education. PipelineAZ, an initiative created by the Partnership For Economic Innovation, is a local career development tool that matches Arizonans to career paths through online skills mapping technology. MyFutureAZ utilizes the same technology for high school students.
Students can create a free profile and build on their profile throughout their school years. MyFutureAZ uses an assessment test to match them with hundreds of possible careers. Deputy associate superintendent Cathie Raymond from the Arizona Department of Education said the main goal of this program was to provide all students with equal access to career planning.
“Career and Technical Education is paying for the platform so there is no cost to schools or to students which will save many districts money, because some of the systems they purchased are like $20,000,” Raymond said.
Raymond is also the director of Career and Technical Education Programs for AZDE. CTE is paying for the program through the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, or Perkins V grant.
Schools in Arizona are required to finish a career action plan for each student before they graduate from high school. In order to fill this requirement, schools have been purchasing expensive career planning systems. MyFutureAZ fills the need for career action plans at no cost to students or schools.
Director Katherine Pappas of workforce strategy at PipelineAZ collaborated with Raymond on the development of MyFutureAZ for the past two years.
“We want them to be able to come in and start mapping their career based on what skills they have and what skills requisite they need to get a foot in the door in a particular career,” Pappas said.
Pappas said having local industry partnerships makes the program robust. Arizona industry partnerships gives MyFutureAZ inside access to current job listings and job skill requirements, then matches the students with in-state educational programs.
“We want to make sure students have the opportunity to explore the different careers in Arizona and see where they can eventually earn viable, sustainable careers and stay within our state,” Raymond said.
Raymond hopes MyFutureAZ will shift the traditional advice of college attendance to focusing more on education with a purpose. Students can compare estimated career salaries to available educational programs through MyFutureAZ. Students have a more realistic expectation of costs and can plan accordingly.
MyFutureAZ will also assist school counselors that do career planning for hundreds of students. The platform can answer most questions counselors usually address with students.
“I heard in a conference this morning that our student to counselor ratio is now at almost 1,200 which is crazy,” Pappas said. “I came from an immigrant family, my parents didn’t even speak English and I literally had to navigate the system myself, so I understand the barriers.”
Students have free access to career advice and counselors can seamlessly advise a student through their own administrative profile. The only barrier to career planning with MyFutureAZ is internet access.
Additionally, the platform can transfer between schools. A transfer student can continue their profile at another Arizona school without missing a beat. The high school version of the platform has been deployed at several Tucson Unified and Marana Unified School District schools. Raymond says the middle school version will be deployed by Thanksgiving.
“I think everyone is understanding that the sooner you get students engaged and looking at careers, the more successful they will be,” Raymond said.
The Center for the Future of Arizona and the Arizona Business Education Coalition supported the deployment of the middle school version of MyFutureAZ.
“It’s really important that we collectively work to really help educate students as they’re coming into the job market on how to relay their skills, because that’s the valuable currency,” Pappas said.
MyFutureAZ link: myfutureaz.pipelineaz.com