Baltimore and some of its suburbs will get a piece of $10.5 million that the U.S. Department of Labor is spreading around the country to foster a closer relationship between school and the world of work.
The grant money goes to programs that attempt to address the growing concerns of employers that high schools, particularly in the vocational-technical area, must do more to stay abreast of technological change and what it requires of young people starting their careers.
Maryland's share of the grant, $379,514, will go to three programs that attempt to ensure a smooth transition from the training students get in school to the technological demands they will face at work.
"We need to make sure that kids are getting on-going education and that what they are getting in high school is relevant and applies to practical skills on the job," said Audrey Theis, director of the state Office of Employment Training. Her office is part the state Department of Economic and Employment Development, which will administer the grant money in Maryland.
Project Mechtech, a program supported by the machine tool industry, will get a portion of the funds. In the city and in Baltimore County, machine tool companies will form a consortium for recruiting students to rotate among their shops for training in a variety of new technologies. When the students complete their training, the companies are likely to compete to hire them, Theis said.
Another grant recipient is Maryland's Tomorrow, a program which provides counseling, tutoring and job opportunities to students who are at risk of dropping out of school. The program operates throughout the state, but the grant goes to a pilot project in Carroll County. Theis said the grant would finance apprenticeships that Maryland's Tomorrow students would work during the school day for credit and which would lead to jobs after graduation.
Beyond the Baltimore area, a project called Tech Prep Plus will study ways of linking the last two years of vocational technical education in high schools in southern Maryland and the Washington suburbs with the two years of post-secondary education in technical college programs. The study will suggest ways of redesigning the vo-tech curriculum so that it feeds directly into the technical college work.