Vocational Career Alternatives: We know that not every person has the aptitude or desire for a career in technology. However, there are numerous career opportunities in the trades, service industry, medical and emergency fields. Vocational careers that support every level of infrastructure in a company, city, state or country have lost traction in the career path due to the digital blitz we now live in. Our country’s skilled labor force has been shrinking for decades and we don’t need a “Space Force” as much as we need an “infrastructure force”! Here at SNC we believe that “contract workers” and people surviving in the “gig economy” are not good trends in the long-term. Where is the job security? What about employee benefits like paying into Social Security, Medicaid and pension plans. These trends allow companies to profit without paying their share of the cost of a healthy society. There are signs that our country will soon face chronic shortages in nurses, health therapists, lab techs, caretakers, pilots, teachers, plumbers, electricians and carpenters. Our country’s unions need revitalization so that the rights of the employee are protected. Unions also give a proper framework to deal with racism, sexism and harassment. In addition, jobs that are in-demand will see wages and benefits increase. We are fortunate to have three community colleges nearby (College of Alameda, Laney College and Merritt Community College) that provide a wide selection of degrees and certification programs. These will give our students exposure and guidance as they discover what peeks their interest and what education and skills required.
Bottom Line: Whether you are going into highly technical career, a political career, the service industry or one of the trades it all begins with a high school diploma. Education and opportunity are the way out of poverty. Furthermore, with 80% of jobs require some level of tech knowledge we will continue to increase our investment in digital hardware building kits for our student teams with exercises in creative design and production. We are continuing the use of iPads and the apps that teach coding, writing and speech…all of which are both individual and team based. Finally, all of our students are held accountable through our STEP daily point system, team project deadlines and their school projects.
*We will continue to build on the teamwork strategies began last year:
Last Fall we made the “transition step” from tech startup to a fully-fledged tech company as the school year theme of our STEP program. The primary difference between a startup and a developed company is that a startup usually has a new idea or a single product; whereas the developed company builds on past success by expanding its market reach with upgrades and improvements, and developing new products. The key for any successful company is the people and how well they work together. Individual effort being augmented by teamwork, expectations and critical encouragement. These objectives will be implemented in the following areas:
Team Building Computer Hardware: Our STEP Program digital and technology push is to provide computer building kits that emphasize team work. These kits contain modular electronics, magnets, power supplies, touch screens and regular screens and various circuitry. However, the theme of the kits are primarily for small groups of students to work together…a team building exercise in creativity, design and production. We will be purchasing and using the following:
Raspberry Pi 3 building kits:
CanaKit Raspberry Pi 3 Starter Kits 32GB
littleBits inventor kits:
littleBits STEAM Student (3 student minimum) Sets
littleBits Electronics Gizmos & Gadgets Kits
littleBits Gizmos & Gadgets, 2nd Edition
littleBits Smart Home Kits
Software Coding and Creating Code and Apps: Our STEP program has been emphasizing learning to code for the last few years. In 2016 we introduced our students to the Apple iPad program called Swift. Swift is user friendly and is founded on the belief that “everyone can code”. Coding leads to creating apps. The app economy is a huge business and app development is in high demand. Learning how to code and create apps is a fundamental idea for SNC as we push our lower income students toward ideas and careers that are based in the tech sector. With the additional iPads purchased last year our students get plenty of time to learn and work with this and other coding apps. We are giving extra STEP points to those students who present the most creative ideas, with code, in a team setting.
Emphasis on ACCOUNTABILITY: Last year we took our top STEP point earners on a tour of Pixar, Inc., the digital animation company located in nearby Emeryville, and it was simply amazing. Two main details emerged from the tour: First, employees can make their own work schedule as long as they get their work done. Secondly, each employee is part of a team and their work is evaluated by other teams before it is finished. Productivity and deadlines are part of the creative process! So, with our emphasis on teamwork this school year our Presentation Room will be utilized once again as the “pitch ideas” room, but now a student team will be evaluated by other teams and each team will have project “deadlines”. We will start out with simple projects with one week deadlines. During the course of the year more extensive projects where the student team will have one or two month deadlines to come up with a complete product: create, design, build hardware and then add coding and apps.
Personal Exercise Monitor Bands as a reward: Building on the use of personal Fitbits last year we will now offer them as a team incentive…each student on the teams that meet their deadlines will receive a personal Fitbit. We plan to buy at least a dozen Fitbit Flex 2 Exercise Monitoring Bands.
Conclusion: The only way out of poverty is through opportunity. Our STEP program recent tech centered school themes are providing the path to opportunity for our low income students of color. We believe in working hard and that any success requires skills in reading, writing, math; and now more than ever, some knowledge of coding, engineering and app creation. The mobile digital revolution has transformed the world as we know it and the changes are happening at a pace that gets quicker every day. We are trying to do our part in helping the young people of Oakland to not only keep up, but even too become pacesetters themselves!