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2012 in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,700 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Apprenticeship Programs See Increased Demand

The number of carpenters, electricians and other workers learning skilled trades is on its way up again.

Apprenticeship programs are reporting increased capacity and demand this year, bolstered by an improving economy and big projects under way that call for specialized skills.

“When the recession hit, we got slammed,” said Ron Simko, area training director for the Indiana/Kentucky Regional Council of Carpenters apprenticeship program. “Work is picking up again.”

The number of new apprentices in the Lafayette Electrical Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee’s program, headquartered at Ivy Tech Community College, has doubled over the past year. Alcoa Inc. in August took in its largest apprentice class at the Lafayette plant. The Indiana /Kentucky Regional Council of Carpenters is trying to grow its apprenticeship program in the area.

The local activity illustrates nationwide growth for participation in registered apprenticeship programs, which are “training system(s) that combine job-related technical instruction with structured on-the-job learning experiences,” according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Last year, the Labor Department reported 1,400 new apprenticeship programs nationwide and nearly 130,000 new workers entered the system, according to the Journal & Courier.

The numbers aren’t as high as they were in 2007, but they’re on their way back up. The number of new apprentices in nonmilitary programs grew 17.4 percent in 2011 compared with the previous year.

Program coordinators say the activity is a reflection of improved industry confidence.

There are 30 registered apprenticeship sponsors in Tippecanoe County representing 19 occupations, according to the Labor Department.

“We’re seeing numbers going back up, and all around things are brighter,” said Carol Korty, coordinator of the Lafayette Electrical JATC. <Read more.>

Via Hayleigh Colombo, Journal & Courier , Community College Week.

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‘Soft Skills’ Pushed as Part of College Readiness

To make it in college, students need to be up for the academic rigor. But that’s not all. They also must be able to manage their own time, get along with roommates, and deal with setbacks. Resiliency and grit, along with the ability to communicate and advocate, are all crucial life skills. Yet, experts say, many teenagers lack them, and that’s hurting college-completion rates.

“Millennials have had helicopter parents who have protected them,” said Dan Jones, the president of the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors and the director of counseling and psychological services at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. “They haven’t had the opportunity to struggle. When they come to college and bad things happen, they haven’t developed resiliency and self-soothing skills.”

College enrollment is growing, but graduation rates remain flat. Among industrialized nations, the United States ranks ninth in the world in enrollment but last in completion rates, according to an analysis of 18 countries by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

As educators look for ways to turn that showing around, many schools are incorporating the softer, noncognitive skills into college-readiness efforts. The ability to solve problems and be resourceful are viewed by some experts as being as important as mastering mathematics and reading. Helping teenagers develop those skills is being addressed in high schools, college-freshman orientation, youth-development organizations, and parenting programs. (Read more.)

Via Education Week.

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More on College and Career Readiness

Community Colleges Rethink Placement Tests:

College-placement tests can make or break a student’s career. Yet few students prepare for them, and there’s little evidence to suggest the tests even do what they’re designed to do.

Now, some community colleges are looking for alternatives. Some are switching to high school grades or revamping assessments, while others are working with high schools to figure out students’ college readiness early so they have time to catch up if necessary.

“Our concern is that placement tests are really used to keep students out of credit-bearing courses, and they really are not reliable enough to make those decisions,” said Stan Jones, the president of Complete College America, a Washington-based nonprofit organization. Despite those concerns, he said, colleges use the tests because “they are inexpensive. They don’t take long, and there is a common belief that the tests will provide better information than they do.”

Read more via Caralee Adams, Education Week.

Coalition Advances Definition of Career Readiness

What skills are necessary for a young person to be considered “career ready?” And are those the same skills necessary to do well in college? That’s been one of the most debated questions in education policy in the last few years, and yet the answer still depends on who you’re asking.

In the hope of guiding education policy, more than two dozen business and education groups have come together as the Career Readiness Partner Council to try to forge a shared definition of what it means to be ready for good jobs.

The four-page statement attempts to fuse various ways of conceptualizing career readiness, from acquiring skills specific to a given sector or entry-level job to mastering broader workplace skills.

On the academic side, it says that career-ready students need to be proficient in core academic subjects, as well as in technical skills associated with specific career fields or pathways. It outlines a range of overarching skills and dispositions, too, such as strong communications skills, the ability to work in teams and independently, and effective use of technology. And it says that the knowledge, skills, and dispositions “vary from one career to another and change over time” as a person develops.

Prevailing education rhetoric embraces these things in its “college and career readiness” dialogue, the group says, but hasn’t emphasized another key element: “engaging workplace experiences” such as internships or service learning that allow students to apply these skills alongside experienced professionals.

Read more via Catherine Gewertz, Education Week.

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