Liberty Science Center (LSC) and Bank of America (BofA) have announced a two-year pilot program in two New Jersey high schools – James J. Ferris High School in Jersey City and Memorial High School (MHS) in West New York – focused on providing their students with the skills and training needed to prepare them for what have been termed “new collar” jobs in emerging technology fields. The initial focus will be on cybersecurity, and jobs in cybersecurity that don’t require extensive coding skills.
The High Schools of the Future pilot will allow MHS and Ferris HS students entering 11th grade this fall to opt into an accelerated, two-year professional job training program to build their STEM skills and job readiness through school year programming and summer experiences. The two-year pilot will serve 20-30 students from each school and aim to teach them career-ready skills that are highly valuable for high-earning careers and the rapidly developing STEM labor markets. Additionally, those students who successfully complete these accelerated learning paths, and meet their conditions for employment, will be offered quality jobs at BofA as employees focused on emerging technologies.
Convening industry representatives with thought leaders, educators, and other stakeholders to address societal issues and make the world a better place is a primary focus of the 30-acre SciTech Scity innovation campus currently being developed by LSC in Jersey City. The High Schools of the Future advisory panel was assembled to address the issue of workforce readiness and is made up of experienced classroom educators, academics who study workforce trends, and industry representatives responsible for job training. The panel worked for 18 months on this pilot in an effort to ensure high school students would be prepared for emerging jobs and the future of work.
Liberty Science Center is currently in the process of identifying key professional job partners and skill needs, developing curriculum, and establishing training protocols. In addition to cybersecurity, other areas that have already been identified for training include the financial service industry and the energy industry.
Since our inception more than 25 years ago, one of our primary goals has been to be a catalyst for improved student STEM learning in New Jersey’s most underserved communities,” said Paul Hoffman, LSC President and CEO. “This goal is more urgent than ever because the pandemic has unfortunately deepened educational disparities between the state’s lowest-income neighborhoods and better resourced areas.”
Hoffman added that, “LSC is ready to respond to a critical need for enhanced jobs-readiness training for high school students, helping them attain STEM skills that will enable them to get jobs upon graduation if they choose to enter the workforce. And with the plethora of malware, ransomware, phishing attacks and other cyberattacks surging and negatively impacting so many individuals, companies and organizations here in the U.S. and across the globe, the pilot program in cybersecurity is a natural first step in fulfilling this mission.”
Hoffman noted there are well more than a half-million unfilled cybersecurity jobs in the U.S. and more than four million globally. Those numbers are expected to continue to grow exponentially – the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that “information security analyst” will be the 10th fastest growing occupation over the next decade, with an employment growth rate of 31% (compared to the 4% average growth rate for all occupations).
“Here in New Jersey, there are 1.4 open STEM jobs for every unemployed person. Supporting the Liberty Science Center on the High Schools of the Future initiative is another way we’re helping to prepare a diverse pipeline of students to be successful in STEM careers,” said Alberto Garofalo, Bank of America New Jersey President. “Simply put, more STEM jobs exist than there are qualified candidates to fill them. Our goals in partnering with Liberty Science Center on the High Schools of the Future initiative include addressing minority scholarship, professional training programs, and curriculum building to help ensure student success while also uplifting underserved communities through workforce development.”
Liberty Science Center and SciTech Scity are seeking other high-employment companies in New Jersey to join Bank of America in the High Schools of the Future initiative. Corporate partnerships will enhance high school training in order to:
Hoffman explained that LSC is obtaining commitments from New Jersey companies to offer jobs to students who successfully complete the program. This, he stresses, will be “a win for the students, their families, and for the companies who save on recruiting and training costs.”
In addition to the pilot program announced today, the preliminary High Schools of the Future advisory panel discussions have included the need to equip students who may decide to continue their formal education while working and also the need for programs that ensure life-long learning in a rapidly changing work environment.
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