Thanks to some dedicated educators and innovative employers, today’s high school students may well be graduating high school with a diploma and a work credential.

At orientation for  Reynoldsburg High School’s Health Sciences and Human Services Academy the principal made a commitment to freshmen and their families, stating the goal for the long term.

Graduating High School with a Diploma and Work Credential

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“My plan is to have all of you walk out of here with a credential in your hand,” Dawn McCloud told said.

Central Ohio schools have directed their attention to professional certifications for technical skills that have value in the workplace, giving students more options after high school for obtaining skilled employment.

Starting this fall, more than a dozen districts are launching programs focused on four industries in Ohio with jobs that need to be filled: information technology, logistics, health care and advanced manufacturing.

Many of the new programs are part of the Innovation Generation initiative, a joint effort by 15 central Ohio school districts, Columbus State Community College, the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio and various community and business partners. Training and technology for the group’s work is paid through a $14.4 million Straight-A grant from the state.

Graduating High School with a Diploma and Work Credential

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“The goal we’re shooting for is to broaden opportunities for students by providing them a combination of industry-recognized credentials that make them employable right away and meaningful progress toward post-secondary degrees or completing two-year degrees,” said Tricia Moore, spokeswoman for Reynoldsburg schools, one the partnering districts.

Sherry Minton, director of career transitions at Columbus State, said employers are looking beyond the technical skills: They want people who have a strong foundation in core subjects such as math, English and science as well as a good grasp of soft skills such as problem-solving and critical thinking.

That’s why it’s so important for districts and career-technical schools to work together.

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