PIQUA — The 2018-19 school year brought record enrollment to the Upper Valley Career Center with just under 1,000 high school students on the Piqua main campus, studying within 25 career-focused programs. Additionally, 3,300 satellite students are served within 12 of 14 associate school districts throughout Miami and Shelby Counties.
The steady increase in enrollment numbers over the past few years is attributed to a combination of factors. First, Career and Technical Education (CTE) is a topic of national, regional, and local focus as businesses everywhere struggle to fill vacant positions. “These businesses are seeking trained, skilled workers,” said Dr. Nancy Luce, superintendent of the Upper Valley Career Center. “Our staff works hand-in-hand with area employers to understand the current and future workforce needs and to develop skilled and trained employees with relevant industry credentials. This is a win for the employers as well as our students when it comes to career placement.”
Programs like Apprenticeship, Advanced and Early Placement have been expanded to allow qualified students to enter their career field while still in school, or directly after graduation. In addition to entering the workforce, these and other students are advancing on to post-secondary education now more than ever. The class of 2017 saw 41 percent of its students seek further education upon graduation. Some of these students chose to attend a two-year or four-year institution while others are working on advanced skilled trade certifications and education at local technical centers, colleges, and universities.
“Our ongoing focus is on how we can best prepare our students for future success while serving the needs of the industries in our region. We are constantly evaluating our programming and services to ensure that they are relevant, effective, and align with workforce and student interests,” said Luce.
One recent example of understanding community needs is the addition of the Veterinary Science program at the high school level. “With the rich agricultural history of our region, we identified the need for animal science programming, especially focused on the large-animal industry. The interest in this program has been extremely high,” stated Luce.
Looking ahead to the 2019-20 school year, the high school is responding to the growing needs of the healthcare industry with the addition of Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) training within the Medical Careers Academy program. This certification, along with the State Tested Nursing Aide (STNA) certification currently available to students, is in high demand by local hospitals and senior living communities.
Knowing that education is a lifelong pursuit, the Upper Valley Career Center Adult Division is focused on the needs of adult students of all ages. Training programs are designed to provide a personalized, hands-on, cost-effective, and convenient method to help adults invest in their future by earning industry-recognized credentials in areas such as healthcare, manufacturing, and HVACR in one year or less.
Strong business partners support the adult division as well as the high school programs.
“Area employers and advisory members provide valuable input that allows us to keep our programs up-to-date and enable our students to be as competitive as possible in the workforce,” said Scott Naill, Adult Division Director.
In addition to student-based programs, the Adult Division serves area employers with customized training programs for their employees. These modules and programs are conducted at the Career Center, on-location, or any combination that is the most effective for the training.
Moving into the future, the Career Center is as committed as ever to its mission of providing the highest quality and most technologically advanced educational opportunities for students in a professional, caring environment while networking with the communities served.