UBCTS Named National Semi-Finalist in Department of Education’s Career ZChallenge – Now Vying for Share of $2.5 Million Cash Prizes and ResourcesPerkasie, PA – October 3, 2023 – Upper Bucks County Technical School has advanced to the semi- finalcompetition phase of the U.S. Department of Education’s Career Z Challenge: Expanding Work- BasedLearning Opportunities for Gen Z. The school is now eligible for a share of $2.5 million in cash prizesalong with access to professional resources and guidance from expert mentors to help implement andexpand the UBCTS workforce-based learning ecosystem. The Career Z Challenge rewards organizationsthat take a pivotal role in shaping a skilled and competent workforce by creating collaborative andsustainable work-based learning (WBL) ecosystems and providing students across grades 9-12 withinterconnected and expansive career development opportunities.
“Upper Bucks County Technical School is addressing the skilled workforce gap by supporting a workforcedevelopment program that benefits everyone involved,” says Michael Herrera, Executive Director ofUBCTS. “We are excited to advance to Phase 2 of the competition, which provides exceptional tools andresources that will greatly benefit our students, the school and, ultimately, the community.
”Schools, non-profit organizations, and local educational agencies in urban and rural communities across35 states submitted entries. After submitting an action plan providing interconnected careerdevelopment opportunities, partnership commitments, and measurable metrics for a sustainable WBLecosystem, UBCTS was chosen as one of 81 schools to advance to Phase 2, the implementation stage ofthe competition. During the 2023-2024 school year, semi-finalists will receive technical assistance tosupport the refinement and implementation of their proposed WBL ecosystem plan. They will alsoparticipate in a community of practice and have access to learning workshops, peer collaborationopportunities and other resources.
“Our goal at UBCTS is to introduce diverse career pathways, build students’ skills and confidence, andprovide cooperative opportunities,” says Herrera. “It’s a win for the students, employers and the BucksCounty community. Students explore trade-specific job pathways and make a direct connectionbetween the skills they learn in the classroom and the workplace. Employers can mentor youngemployees, which often leads to long-term employment and better retention. And it raises theprobability that talented students start their careers and stay in Bucks County.
”UBCTS provides career training to students grades 9-12 in 21 career paths. During the 2022-23 schoolyear, 119 students participated in UBCTS cooperative education programs at 91 employer partners,earning $589,768; 56 students were placed upon graduation. “Our instructors’ exemplary efforts havecreated a legacy of talent, preparedness and ambition for a future workforce,” says UBCTS School toWork Coordinator Lisa Walck. “Their commitment transcends traditional teaching, crafting a path foreach student that leads to not just a job, but a sustainable career. Through their guidance, our studentsemerge as adept, well-rounded individuals primed for immediate entry into the workforce. Filled withknowledge, practical skills, and an intrinsic work ethic, they are not just employees but future leadersready to ascend the career ladder with agility and confidence.
”If selected as a Phase 3 finalist in 2024, the UBCTS team will enhance their WBL program during thefollowing school year and report results. Throughout that year, they will receive expert 1-on-1 coaching,network with peers, and meet with fellow finalists in Washington, D.C.
About Upper Bucks County Technical School (UBCTS):
Upper Bucks County Technical School is a renowned educational institution committed to providingcomprehensive technical and academic education to Bucks County, Pennsylvania students in grades 912.Located in Perkasie, PA, UBCTS offers programs that prepare students for success in various industriesand empower them with the skills needed for meaningful careers. Ubtech.org
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PHOTO CAPTION (l-r): Turner Dallison (Quakertown High School) and Nick Schrey (Pennridge HighSchool) were hired by Indian Creek Electric after participating in a UBCTS cooperative education programat the company. Lucas Rinehimer and Carter Baker, both Quakertown graduates, were also hired.