Launched in June 2021, Hamilton County Center for Career Achievement, has several initiatives under way. The HCCCA is a countywide program that creates comprehensive career and technical education opportunities for students attending Hamilton County high schools.
“We really want to take away the stigma that it’s college or careers – we are working on rebranding to help take away that stigma of a career center not being equal to a college path,” HCCCA Executive Director Carrie Lively said. “That’s our focus to really take any stigma away associated with career and technical education.”
The HCCCA, which is working to become a nonprofit by 2024, also is expanding its career and technical education program options for students immediately after high school graduation.
“Or they can continue on and get a four-year advanced degree,” Lively said. “It really is for all students. We are looking at expanding in quite a few different pathways.”
Lively said agriculture is one of the pathways available to high school students.
“There’s a big push for agriculture and through the lens of entrepreneurship as well, being able to be a business owner through the agriculture lens,” Lively said.
Other career paths include construction and trades, civil engineering and architecture.
“Those are pathways we are really pushing as well,” Lively said.
HCCCA is partnering with area schools, such as Hamilton Heights High School, which recently held a job fair with more than 50 employers looking to hire students.
“That wasn’t to learn about the jobs that were available, they were really looking to hire kids,” Lively said. “We had kids from seven different schools in attendance.”
Lively said the HCCCA is creating a talent pipeline connecting students with employers.
“We also are expanding out into manufacturing and those types of automation, robotics,” Lively said. “We are connecting students to the world of manufacturing through, again, a different lens. A lot of times people interested in manufacturing anticipate that it is standing in an assembly line putting parts together and sending that down the line, but that is so far from the truth of what we see in Hamilton County in manufacturing.”
Approximately 100 students attend manufacturing courses offered at the county’s high schools.
“There’s definitely a discrepancy between what the job outlook is and what our student pipeline is,” Lively said. “We are working hard to rebrand that manufacturing is a lot of automation and a lot of robotics and a lot of technical skills go into that.”
Lively said the HCCCA is enhancing its nursing, health care, IT and cyber security career paths. It also helps guide curriculum so that instruction is relevant to specific job fields. The programs are offered at area schools.
“We are partnering with all schools in the county to build out the current programs they have and build upon those and expand,” Lively said. “We are pushing resources to the schools where the students are. We know the model of students leaving (school) to go to a career center is not effective.”
Lively only 500 Hamilton County students are participating in career center programming.
“We want a more effective means of delivering those courses to students,” Lively said. “We want to support as much as we can in the school buildings. If Westfield is offering a course that isn’t filled by Westfield High School students, they could open that up to other students in the county.”
Lively said the HCCCA is working with school on details such as offering transportation. She said online courses also are an option.
“We don’t have a box we have to stay in. Everything is new and everything is being innovated,” Lively said. “There’s really no limits to what we can do.”
Employers interested in engaging with HCCCA can email Lively at email@example.com.