Originally published in The Conservative Investor Daily on April 2, 2023.
According to leading economists in Texas, “job growth and economic activity are expected to slow significantly” this year. This isn’t particularly welcome news, but we have the power to reverse this trend. To help ensure we’re spurring more economic growth in our state, we must continue to invest in our workforce. Career learning is the best place to start.
By providing high school students and young budding professionals with hands-on experience in their chosen fields and exposure to various industries and job functions, more Texans can hone important technical and specialized skills.
For example, through a combination of schoolwork and internships, and apprenticeships and job shadowing programs, students can gain real-world experience and develop practical skills such as teamwork, critical thinking, communication and project management. These, of course, are valuable skills for any job market. Additionally, career-learning programs — many of which are online — can help students achieve better job security later in life and potentially higher salaries.
In addition to preparing students for the workforce and cultivating economic growth, career learning also plays an important role in helping young Texans make informed decisions about their future. By exposing these students to a variety of potential choices, career learning programs help them understand their strengths, interests and goals, serving as a guide to make informed decisions about college, the workforce and beyond. This is particularly important for students who may not have a clear understanding of the many career opportunities available, as well as those who may need support exploring every possibility.
Investing in career learning is an investment in the future of Texas and its workforce. Industries such as health science, information technology and human services are continuing to report solid growth across the state. But these industries are only as strong as the workers who support them. Ensuring we give students every opportunity to succeed — in the classroom and on the job — will help to protect our workforce from any downturn and improve the state’s economic growth and competitiveness for years to come.
As the job market and technology continue to evolve, it is essential for every student in Texas to learn how to adapt to change and acquire new skills quickly and successfully. Career learning is a critical part of this endeavor. It’s our responsibility to ensure that students have the tools they need to enter the job market with confidence and learn how to become productive members of society.
Kristina Nanini, a former teacher and school principal, is executive director of Texas Online Preparatory School, an online public school that serves students statewide in grades 3-12.
To learn more about Texas Online Preparatory School, visit https://tops.k12.com/.