HACC’s Dual Enrollment Program Supports the Region’s Workforce
Victor Rodgers, HACC associate provost for Workforce Development and Continuing Education
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Muhammad Shahab, a senior at Steelton Highspire High School, scoped out a future career as a bush pilot after participating in a professional development and career exploration program at his high school.
His classmates in the STEP Academy offered by HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, are looking into careers that include advanced manufacturing and healthcare.
Skylar Clark, a senior at Pequea Valley High School, also completed the STEP Academy in fall 2018. He is dual enrolled this spring in psychology and English classes at HACC’s Lancaster Campus, where he has already been accepted into the Radiology Informatics Program in fall 2019.
Shabab and Clark are among nearly 100 high school students in 12 school districts in Adams, Dauphin, Lancaster and Lebanon counties who dual enrolled in HACC’s STEP Academy, a program that addresses a need to train future workers for high-demand jobs in the region, especially in advanced manufacturing and healthcare.
Shahab, who completed HACC’s STEP Academy in December 2018, is enrolled this spring in an allied health class at HACC's Harrisburg Campus. He also completed a mock interview with Harrisburg Pilots School where he is completing a six-month internship and has passed his private pilot license exam.
“Dual enrollment through workforce programs is a relatively new direction for HACC,” said Victor Rodgers, associate provost for workforce development and continuing education at the College.
STEP fills a void for undecided high school students
“The genesis of the STEP Academy began with industry asking HACC to ‘teach people how/what it means to work.’ In turn, the academy was created through the innovative leadership of HACC President John J. ‘Ski’ Sygielski, Ed.D.,” Rodgers said.
“In the past 18 months, we have started to partner with school districts and businesses to create a pipeline into skilled trades in our region. This initiative is vital in support of the economic health of the region,” Rodgers said.
STEP, which stands for “Set goals, Take action, Expect success and Put in the work,” is an academy for students who are undecided on their next steps after transition from high school. The academy teaches professional skills, but also focuses on career exploration in the key areas of health careers and advanced manufacturing.
“Additionally, HACC’s programming meets the needs of area high school superintendents who are searching for additional career educational options for their students,” Rodgers said.
The STEP Academy, at its core, provides students with the professional and foundational skills to be successful in the workplace. Through utilization of the WorkKeys® program, STEP instructors assesses students’ skill levels in applied math, locating information and graphic literacy. These levels then match to levels of specific occupations.
HACC works with local employers who present to the students about their specific businesses and partner with the College to provide tours and shadowing. HACC also holds job fairs to give employers an opportunity to interview students for potential employment.
“We are continuing to refine the program so that pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship opportunities are available to the students,” Rodgers said.
STEP trains students to survive in the workplace
Students benefit from the STEP Academy in myriad ways. “They learn the current climate of the workforce today while also learning about themselves through personality assessments and interactive teamwork activities. Additionally they create and present a leadership presentation as a capstone project of the class,” Rodgers said.
“Students gain foundational competencies in areas such as conflict resolution, teamwork, leadership and communication. These competencies in addition to understanding appropriate behaviors in the workplace – such as managing your cell phone, address the professional skills that much of our business community says is lacking in young adults entering the workforce,” Rodgers said.
Each student completes the academy with a career portfolio that includes a LinkedIn profile, résumé, cover letter and national credentials, including Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety practices, CPR and first aid, and the National Career Readiness Certificate that validates their skill level to potential employees.
Students also benefit by obtaining three HACC credits. For those enrolled into the full year program, some also have the option to take a second HACC credit class. This allows these students to graduate high school with six HACC credits as well as their national credentials.
By attending the STEP Academy on a HACC campus, students also become acclimated to life on a college campus. This, in turn, has become a main reason 40 of the 106 students who went through the program have decided to enroll in HACC post-graduation.
STEP Academy continues to grow
“HACC is in negotiations to host an additional eight school districts this fall 2019. With the demand for a skilled workforce intensifying, our industry sectors are really the driving force behind much of the College’s workforce development programming,” Rodgers said.
“HACC truly believes in our mission of ‘transforming lives’ by collaborative efforts such as our workforce dual enrollment program. By giving parents, students and employers a clear pathway to success, we are making a positive contribution to our entire community,” Rodgers said.
About HACC HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, is the first and largest of Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges. HACC offers approximately 100 career and transfer associate degree, certificate and diploma programs to approximately 19,000 students. Also, the College serves students at its Gettysburg, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon and York campuses; through virtual learning; and via workforce development and continuing education training. For more information on how HACC is uniquely YOURS, visit hacc.edu. Also, follow us on Twitter (@HACC_info), follow us on Instagram (@HACC_edu), like us on Facebook (Facebook.com/HACC64) and use #HACCNews.