Summer Careers Academy 2021-2022 Year in Review
Summer Careers Academy 2021-2022 Year in Review
Chapel Hill, NC: In just over one year, the Summer Careers Academy (SCA) model and Building Our Future (BOF) program were designed and implemented, and delivered remarkable success with 100% of the Pre-Apprentices successfully completing the eight-week skilled trades career training program and 80% earning the NC Registered Youth Apprenticeship Certificate.
"The Summer Careers Academy inaugural program in the skilled trades, called 'Building Our Future,' shows us that the model works and this program changes lives, helps employers, and improves our community," said Holly Fraccaro, CEO of the Home Builders Association of Durham, Orange, and Chatham Counties (HBA DOC); Executive Director of the HBA DOC Foundation; Summer Careers Academy Steering Committee Member; and Managing Director of Building Our Future.
This SCA 2021-2022 Year in Review provides an overview of the model and program, the implementation timeline and results, as well as insights for the future. Ultimately, this summary should help inform other collectives who wish to replicate the model and program.
Summer Careers Academy
The Summer Careers Academy (SCA) is an innovative, eight-week career training model in Orange County, NC that connects residents, especially young adults (ages 16-24) who are underrepresented and underserved, with new skills and paid work experiences in compelling career pathways. The model is based on the successful employer-led Catawba Valley Community College Construction Careers Academy, which blends free in-classroom training and paid on-the-job work experience.
What is unique about the SCA is the commitment to equity. The SCA is open to all (no experience required) and is specifically designed to meet the needs of the most disadvantaged in our community, including refugees, low-income students, and students of color. The program provides critical support services for participants to overcome any and all barriers to success. Participants receive a competitive salary ($12/hour, “Learning Wage”), complimentary equipment and attire, and holistic support along the way (food, transportation, language, and career services). Participants who successfully complete the program are college and career-ready and receive a completion bonus taking their salary to the “Living Wage.”
The SCA is governed by a Steering Committee that operates according to the principles of Collective Impact and is made up of educators, employers, elected and senior government officials, and community activists. Active Steering Committee members include Kathi Breweur of Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, Shannon Braxton of Orange County Schools, Maryah Smith-Overman of Durham Technical Community College, Holly Fraccaro of the Home Builders Association of Durham, Orange, and Chatham Counties, Katie Loovis of The Chamber for a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro, Tai Huynh of Acta Solutions and the Chapel Hill Town Council, Deon Temne of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education, Tony McKnight of ApprenticeshipNC, and James (Jim) Porto, Ph.D., who is the former Mayor of Carrboro.
"Building Our Future" Skilled Trades Program
The inaugural program of the SCA is focused on the skilled trades and is called “Building Our Future” (BOF). This is a new “Registered Youth Apprenticeship Program” and the students, called “Pre-Apprentices,” receive free in-classroom learning and paid on-the-job work experience as well as complimentary equipment and critical support services (food, transportation, language, and career services). Pre-Apprentices who successfully complete the program earn academic credit, industry-recognized certificates (NCCER, OSHA-10, and CPR/First Aid), and are prepared for full time employment in construction occupations (carpentry, plumbing, electrical, masonry, and HVAC-R repair) or are college-ready and can continue to “earn and learn” through a Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP). The Home Builders Association of Durham, Orange, and Chatham Counties Foundation serves as the managing director of BOF and works collaboratively with the SCA Steering Committee.
In just over a year, the SCA Steering Committee met and/or exceeded all five original goals:
- Develop the SCA model and BOF program according to best practices.
- Build organizational capacity (hire coordinator).
- Recruit a diverse inaugural cohort of 10 students and 10 employers.
- Implement the inaugural program with an 80% completion rate.
- Innovate and continuously improve (document lessons learned).
2Q21: Secured public and private funding (public funding from the NC Education and Workforce Investment Fund, EWIF, which is managed by the Governor’s Education and Workforce Commission, and private funding from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust, KCT).
3Q21: Hired an expert workforce development contractor to help finalize the SCA eight week career training model and BOF skilled trades training program so that they are aligned with best practices and fit for Orange County purposes.
4Q21: Introduced the SCA and BOF to the public (10/20/21), hosted multiple employer recruitment events (10/28/21 and 10/29/21), began convening an employer working group (11/21), and hired talented contractors referred to as SCA program coordinators (12/21).
1Q22: Earned ApprenticeshipNC “Registered Youth Apprenticeship Program” status for the inaugural BOF program (1/22), launched the SCA website and called for applications to the inaugural BOF program (02/22/22), and hosted a half-dozen student recruitment events and more business advisory council meetings.
2Q22: Closed the application period for the inaugural cohort and finalized the program performance evaluation plan, hosted a Kickoff and Orientation Event (6/2/22), announced the inaugural cohort to the public (6/16/22), and successfully implemented the new BOF eight week Registered Youth Apprenticeship Program from mid-June through early-August 2022.
3Q22: Concluded the inaugural program with a 100% completion rate, hosted a Graduation Celebration (08/05/22; see pictures, video, and announcement), and captured lessons learned to inform continuous improvement.
Together with funding from EWIF and KCT as well as other donors, the SCA Steering Committee delivered the inaugural program, measured performance, and achieved the following year-one student, employer, and program results.
- Recruitment: 40 students submitted Participant Interest Forms, 21 applicants completed the registration process and were invited to join the cohort, and 15 accepted the invitation and officially started the program (original goal was 10 students).
- Diversity: The inaugural cohort of 15 Pre-Apprentices was extremely diverse with 4 identifying as Hispanic, Latino/a/x, or Spanish origin, 4 as Asian, 3 as Black or African American, 2 as White, and 2 who identify as other. Of the 15 Pre-Apprentices, 7 had graduated from high school and 8 were still in high school.
- Experience: A majority (80%) of Pre-Apprentices reported through the pre-survey that they were not experienced in the skilled trades and fewer than half had ever taken a class in the skilled trades; worked or volunteered in the skilled trades; or had a parent, guardian, or mentor in the skilled trades.
- Persistence: 100% of the Pre-Apprentices who started the program persisted past the half-way point.
- Experience: When asked to indicate the degree to which they agreed with the statement: “I am experienced in the skilled trades;” at the start of the program, only 20% of Pre-Apprentices agreed (3) but by the end of the program, 73% agreed (8) or strongly agreed (3).
- Completion: 100% of Pre-Apprentices who started the program completed the program and 80% (12 of 15) earned the NC Registered Youth Apprenticeship Certificate for completing all academic and work experience requirements. Interestingly, a majority of Pre-Apprentices (8) reported that they would not have completed the program without at least some of the program services provided, including the transportation services (4), salary and/or gift cards for gas and meals (3), and/or language services (1).
- Jobs: By the end of the program, a majority (87%) of Pre-Apprentices reported they are strongly interested (6) or interested (7) in a career in the skilled trades. Five of the fifteen Graduates received offers from their employers and four accepted (Bryant-Durham Electric, Brown Brothers Plumbing and Heating, The Lundy Management Group, and Green Horizon One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning). The others are continuing their studies in high school (Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and Orange County Schools) or college (Durham Tech, Wake Tech, and Alamance Community College).
- Recruitment: 30 employers submitted the Employer Interest Form and 11 proceeded through the registration process, were matched with a student, and became part of the inaugural cohort and provided the on-the-job paid work experience. (Original goal was 10 employers.)
- Diversity: The inaugural cohort of 11 employers was diverse in size and sector with small, mid-size, and large employers from the public and private sectors.
- Workforce Challenges: Of the employers who responded to the pre-survey (7), all agreed that they have a skilled trades talent pipeline challenge and are actively working to improve it. A majority of those employers (86%) are already providing job shadowing, internships, or work experiences; offering on the job training or other efforts to lower the barrier to entry; and paying a living wage. Interestingly, only one employer already offers a Register Apprenticeship certified by ApprenticeshipNC.
- Talent Recruitment: While all employers agreed that their organization was well-equipped to provide a meaningful and positive summer work experience for a Registered Youth Apprentice, the percentage of those who strongly agreed increased from 57% at the start of the program to 75% by the end.
- Talent Acquisition: Five employers made offers to their Pre-Apprentice and four of those offers were accepted.
- Recommitment: Of the employers who responded to the post-survey (8), 88% (7) indicated that they are extremely likely (10 out of 10) to renew participation in the Summer Careers Academy the next year.
- Net Promoter Score: A reliable indicator of overall program quality and participant satisfaction is the “Net Promoter Score,” which is a simple diagnostic developed by Bain & Company that uses a single question: How likely are you to recommend the program to a friend? Then, a formula is used to determine the score. Anything above 0 is considered good, above 50 is excellent, and above 76 is world class. The Summer Careers Academy earned a net promoter score of 67 from the students and 75 from the employers, signaling overall program excellence and an overwhelming willingness among students and employers to promote the program to others.
- Accolades: Despite being new, the SCA earned statewide recognition for exemplary structure and performance, including recognition from the NC Chamber and selection into the prestigious "Our State, Our Work" initiative, which is a Carolina Across 100 (#CarolinaAcross100) two-year initiative coordinated by UNC-Chapel Hill and ncIMPACT to connect young adults to living wage employment opportunities. Being a part of this important initiative will give the SCA Steering Committee access to tremendous resources available through UNC-Chapel Hill and expert advice on performance measurement, strategic marketing and communication, capacity building, and long-term sustainability.
INSIGHTS FOR THE FUTURE
The Model Works
The strong performance of the SCA in year-one demonstrates a proof of concept for the employer-led, student-centered model. The graduates of the inaugural program proved that local residents - including refugees, students of color, and low-income students - have the ability to complete a rigorous career training program and fast-track themselves into compelling career pathways, especially when proper support services are provided along the way, including transportation, food, equipment, and language services.
There is a Need to Expand the Program and Replicate the Model
The SCA Steering Committee is expanding the BOF skilled trades program to serve more students and employers in Orange County in 2023 and hopes to expand to other counties in 2024. In addition, the Steering Committee is working to replicate the SCA model for other programs in high-demand, high-paying career pathways (such as healthcare and life sciences, information technology, and/or cybersecurity).
There is an Opportunity to Improve Regional Talent Pipeline
The SCA Steering Committee is using the year-one evidence to positively impact public policy in the short- and long-term at the local and regional level. Two Summer Careers Academy Steering Committee members serve as the Chair and Vice Chair of the Joint Career and Technical Education (CTE) Business Advisory Council. These representatives will share the evidence to inform policy changes to improve other existing programs for more student success.
There is an Opportunity to Improve Statewide Systems
The impressive, year-one student outcomes validate the SCA model and how critical the wrap-around student support services are to student success. This proof of concept on a local level should inform statewide strategies to close the educational attainment gap and “ensure two million more North Carolinians have a high-quality credential or a postsecondary degree” (myFutureNC). Indeed, NC’s “educational system and economy are out of sync,” according to myFutureNC (2022), and fast, effective, creative programs like the Summer Careers Academy are important solutions that should be taken to scale. The SCA Steering Committee will leverage its selection into the prestigious Carolina Across 100 “Our State, Our Work” initiative to build relationships with UNC-Chapel Hill faculty and staff who will provide expert advice on how to best increase statewide impact.
In just one year, the Summer Careers Academy model and the Building Our Future program was designed, implemented, and delivered. The model is already proving effective and meeting a profound need in our community, as four-times as many students (40 vs. 10) and three-times as many employers (30 vs. 10) completed the Interest Forms to participate in the inaugural program; the Steering Committee was able to make 50% more participant/employer matches for paid youth apprenticeships in the first year than expected (15 vs. 10); and 100% of the students completed the program and 80% earned the NC Registered Youth Apprenticeship Certificate for completing all academic and work experience requirements. The challenge going forward is securing additional funding to sustain this innovative model as well as expand and replicate it to meet the needs of more employers and students, especially refugees, low-income students, and students of color. The Summer Careers Academy Steering Committee is energized and up to this challenge.
For next steps, the SCA Steering Committee intends to:
- Increase the number of BOF students and employers served in 2023 from 15 to 20 students and 11 to 15 employers; and in 2024, from 20 to 35 students (through the administration of an additional cohort) and from 15 to 20 employers (and expand the scope of the program to serve a new demographic such as re-careering adults).
- Share the SCA model and BOF program with other collectives across the state throughout 2023 and 2024 to influence programming and policies that will advance innovative workforce development and student success.
- Research and develop the application of the proven SCA model for a new industry (such as health care, information technology, or cyber security) and/or replicate BOF for a neighboring county in 2025.
All the while, the SCA Steering Committee is positioning the SCA for future financial and operational sustainability through the likelihood of increased revenues from employers and funders, and lower costs through innovative adjustments to the operational model, and thoughtful staffing and strong governance decisions.
The problem is the talent pipeline in our community is broken. Many employers have good paying jobs with strong career pathways ("Five Star" occupations according to the NC Department of Commerce) but claim they cannot find qualified workers. At the same time, our residents, especially disadvantaged youth, could thrive in these jobs but need better training and access. These marginalized communities continue to face many barriers when pursuing compelling career pathways.
The solution is the SCA. This rapid and effective career training model connects employers with a nontraditional talent pool, and provides free in-classroom training, paid work experiences, and wrap-around supports for students. The model is unique in that we are one of the only workforce development programs in the state to offer wrap-around supports to ensure our students show up whole, persist through to completion, and gain employment with family thriving wages.
Bottom line: The SCA is an employer-led, student-centered model that effectively and efficiently connects employers with trained workers and residents to great career pathways.
The mission of the Summer Careers Academy (SCA) is to connect residents, especially youth (ages 16-24) who are underrepresented and underserved, with new skills and paid work experiences in compelling career pathways.
All residents in our community have access to exciting, high paying careers and receive support along the way to achieve their dreams, and our community has a dynamic talent pipeline that delivers value for our residents, employers, and economy.
- We are committed to our shared vision and believe cross-sector collaboration is critical to our success.
- We are committed to justice and equity, and believe establishing a level playing field and inclusive environment is a fundamental component of our programming.
- We are committed to honesty and integrity, and believe that is reflected in our ethical operations, trustworthy fiscal management, and transparent annual reporting.
- We are committed to evidence-informed decision making and believe quantitative and qualitative data are essential for our continuous improvement.
- We are committed to quality and demonstrate this both in the way we work as an organization and the professional pride and work ethic we instill in the classroom among our participants.
Contact: To learn more about the Summer Careers Academy eight-week career training model and the Building Our Future skilled trades registered youth apprenticeship program, watch the videos (Introducing the SCA video and Graduation Celebration 2022 video). For questions, contact Summer Careers Academy Steering Committee Member, Katie Loovis, at 919-696-0781 (m).