Tucker High Program Seeks to Train Students for the Workforce
America today is hampered by workforce shortages the likes of which have not been seen in generations. Whatever the reason, and there’s quite a number of factors to debate, companies can’t find enough truck drivers, waiters, technical workers. One industry that always has a need is healthcare. That particular segment of the workforce has been stretched thin over the past year and a half as COVID has filled emergency rooms and forced doctors and nurses to work long, stressful shifts each day.
At Tucker High School, a new program could mean help is on the horizon for these healthcare heroes. The International Baccalaureate (IB) Career Readiness Program is training up the next generation of hospital reinforcements. The program launched with about 30 students studying with a focus on healthcare science. It is a program that is the first of its kind in DeKalb County. The school’s principal, Dr. Eric Parker, says this type of educational journey fills a void for some students.
“It’s going to allow us to be a little more inclusive of our IB students,” Parker said. “For those students who want the IB experience, but…the [IB] Diploma Program isn’t necessarily a good fit really. Even though they want to go to college, that level of readiness, they may not be able to do the rigor, they may not be able to handle the intensity, or they may just want the career-related focus.”
The concept of balancing education with workforce preparation is nothing new at Tucker High School.The December 2019 issue of InTucker profiled the school’s Work-Based Learning Program, where students spend time during and after the school day working part time jobs for class credit. Parker says this new IB program has a very different goal.
“[Work-based learning is] focused on hourly jobs. This will be more focused on career and the career pathway, which may still entail some hourly work, but I think essentially it’s going to be a lot more apprenticeship, internship-driven, tied to post-secondary career or technical school type apprenticeship opportunities,” he explained.
But what if a student isn’t interested in a potential career in the healthcare field? That doesn’t necessarily mean this program is not for them. Tucker High also offers focuses on entrepreneurship and marketing, and has plans in the future to expand the program to offer popular high-tech careers like cyber security and game design.
Even before this new program, Tucker High drew students from across DeKalb County thanks to their much-heralded IB Diploma Program. Just one of three schools in DeKalb to offer IB, Tucker has sent bright young minds to everywhere from the Ivy League to Georgia and Georgia Tech. That program combines the academic rigors of college studies with a focus on global citizenry.
Still, while the IB Diploma Program is popular, it’s the IB Career Readiness Program that is currently the talk of the school.
“It provides them some variety,” Parker explained. “While a college readiness component is always appealing for some students…some of them want additional options, whether it’s right out of high school, or working their way through college to not incur the debt, or just do a gap year, or they just want different options versus what would be a regular matriculation into a four year college or post-secondary experience.”
Whatever the course of study, Tucker High is churning out the next generation of highly qualified, well-educated young professionals. In light of the ongoing worker shortage, that is welcome news.