Texas public high school students can begin preparing for careers ranging from aerospace to life sciences – all while receiving college credits before graduation – under an initiative launched by Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday.
The program will create “Innovative Academies,” which will work within public high schools partnered with higher education programs and businesses to move students into competitive jobs.
“Preparing the next generation of Texans to enter the workforce is paramount to ensuring that both employees and businesses continue to thrive in the Lone Star State,” Abbott said in a statement.
The program, known as the Texas Industry Cluster Innovative Academies, was created as part of Abbott’s tri-agency task force to examine the state’s workforce and economy. In March, Abbott asked the heads of the Texas Education Agency, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and Texas Workforce Commission to hold meetings with education and business leaders in eight cities and report their findings to the governor’s office.
Raymond Paredes, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board commissioner, told a panel of state lawmakers in March that Texas is lagging behind other states when it comes to preparing high schoolers for higher education. Paredes called it a “cause for alarm.”
Abbott’s Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative will fund initiative academies through grants, and is expected to give high school students college course credit prior to graduation.
The Texas Education Agency will award funding to Innovative Academy proposals sent through an online application. According to a statement from the governor’s office, the academies are expected to target coursework that leads to “direct employment in high-demand occupations.” Those competitive industries include advanced technologies and manufacturing, aerospace and defense, energy, information and computer technology.
“With these Innovative Academies, Texas will lead the way in forging partnerships across a variety of industries and educational institutions to find the most effective solutions to the challenges we face in the 21st century economy,” Abbott said in a statement.
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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2016/09/02/abbott-launches-innovative-academies-high-schools/.