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Ready Workforce Institute
Preparing Students for the Workforce
Posted on 05/12/2023
Ready Workforce Institute

Viking Academy, an innovative high school model located at the Friendship Career Center, is taking a bold step in preparing its students for the workforce. In January 2023, the school introduced the Ready Workforce Institute, a program that allows students to work each Friday at job placements in local businesses. The placements are on a four-week rotation, and students get paid at the end of each four-week placement for the days worked.

The program also includes feedback from managers at the businesses, helping students reflect and establish goals for their next placement. The Ready Workforce Institute has two goals: to educate students about the job opportunities in the community and to make good employees of Viking Academy students as they prepare to enter the workforce.

“Our local businesses have been wonderful,” said Ann Oakley, Viking Academy career counselor. “They have been so generous and eager to help. They understand that they need good employees, and by investing in our students now, they will be more ready for the workforce. Our community needs our students, and our students need our community!”

The program started in January 2023 with only six students but grew to 26 by the end of the semester. For the first semester, Viking Academy partnered with Advance Bristol to pay students monthly, and Advance Bristol will continue to support the program. The program is also looking for additional funding partners to help pay students.

“There’s nothing like payday and them having worked for their own money. That’s just irreplaceable. But even more than that, I want them to be able to create a vision for themselves. The idea is that if you can see it, you can be it,” Oakley said.

Kelly Vance, Tennessee High assistant principal and Viking Academy administrator, added, “Hopefully what will happen, and this has happened already to our students, is that once they are in a placement that they are interested in, the employer will contact us and want to offer them a more permanent position. They can then add hours on evenings or weekends and earn even more money through the employer.”

Many of the Viking Academy students have not thrived in a traditional high school setting. Viking Academy provides additional layers of support, one being one-on-one academic career counseling. In addition to Viking Academy, the Friendship Career Center is home to Tennessee High School’s Automotive and Machining CTE programs and the Alternative Learning Classroom.

The Ready Workforce Institute is a bold and innovative program that could potentially change the way students prepare for the workforce. It gives students practical work experience and the opportunity to learn important life skills that they can apply in their future careers. The program also helps local businesses find good employees while allowing them to invest in their communities.

With the success of the program's first semester, Viking Academy and the Ready Workforce Institute are poised to continue to make a significant impact on their students, their community, and the future workforce.

Reading Workforce Institute Community Partners

Friendship Career Center description

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