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Illinois district plans to launch high school CEO Program

Dive Brief:

  • The West Prairie School District in Illinois is launching a new CEO program to add to its high school curriculum. The lessons will teach soft skills, finance and entrepreneurship basics, and will include field trips to local businesses to help students gain a better understanding of the local job market, WGEM reports. 
  • The purpose of the CEO class is to help juniors and seniors see the job opportunities available to them in their own community and to better prepare them to meet those challenges.
  • The program also benefits local businesses and industries, which will support the program, by helping them recruit future members of their workforce. 

Dive Insight:

When schools and local employers connect, students benefit as well as the local economy. Many students don't feel career-ready at a time when career-readiness is being stressed, but such partnerships can further develop the skills they already have and help them see a pathway into a field of employment. Companies often go outside their area to recruit talent or fear that students will overlook opportunities in their own backyard because they are attracted to potential opportunities farther afield. Such partnerships can help avoid these pitfalls, and local communities benefit because they are more likely to retain community members (and future tax-payers).

Schools can help students become more career-ready through classes, like this one, that teach entrepreneurship and workplace skills. Such lessons are valuable, not only because they teach the basics of starting a business, but because they help students gain a better understanding of what other people go through to launch a startup and how these businesses impact the economy. Students can also benefit through internships, apprenticeships, and preceptorship programs that offer direct hands-on experience.

Though these programs offer value, school leaders may not have the time or resources to cultivate school-industry relationships on this level. Fortunately, many states are also encouraging these partnerships and community organizations are already in place to help schools and businesses make these connections.

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