Community-based education to prepare middle school students for work

Middle school student and employer working together

Universities, cities, employers and community partners will work together with the aim of developing digital badges, creating learning playlists and transforming degrees according to the skills needed in each city.

Image: Bigstock.

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) and LRNG launched an initiative that aims to bring together cities, employers, and teachers to develop middle school educational programs to meet the needs of the workforce. According to the SNHU press release, by 2025, 60 percent of Americans will need some kind of alternative credential, in addition to completing high school.

In this regard, SNHU and LRNG will work together with cities, employers and community partners to identify the needs of the workforce with the purpose to develop digital badges, learning playlists and degrees according to the skills needed in each city.

This initiative will use the resources of each town such as libraries, community centers, and other public spaces, in which students will be able to access different learning paths. LRNG will be responsible for providing a digital platform to obtain alternative credentials, such as coding certifications or career skills badges. On the other hand, SNHU will design degrees adapted to specific employer’s needs.

This initiative has already started with pilot programs in the cities of Birmingham, Alabama, and Chicago, Illinois, with plans to expand to other cities.

Over the next ten years, Birmingham will continue to see an increase in careers in IT, advanced manufacturing, and healthcare. This solution bridges educators, employers, and community partners to create meaningful pathways to develop the skills that will enable Birmingham residents to access quality jobs. This partnership has the potential to transform lives and fuel economic growth throughout our entire community.
— Randall Woodfin, Mayor of Birmingham, Alabama.

In Chicago, a pilot test offered 32,000 students digital badges and learning playlists to explore different professional paths, develop skills of different jobs, better manage their money and develop 21st-century skills.

American employers, such as Amazon Web Services and Unity Technologies, joined this effort and it is expected that in the coming months more cities and companies will participate in this initiative.