A brighter future for students

New Hampshire Career Academy proposal aims to equip the next generation for a success

New Hampshire has a rich tradition of thinking outside the box and experimenting with new solutions, which often leads to accomplished results for our citizens and our businesses. It is one of the reasons why the Granite State is consistently given high marks when compared to other areas of the country. From our quality of life, to our labor participation, public safety, income, education scores, graduation rates, and opportunity, New Hampshire continues to outperform.

Last week was National School Choice Week. It served as an excellent reminder that although we have earned great success, we must continue to advance solutions that help those among us who are falling through the cracks and on an educational path that is not right for them.

It is also important to remember that across the nation, the high cost and burdensome debt of a post-secondary education serves as a barrier to many. With the changing dynamics of employment, artificial intelligence, and overseas competition, we must continue to ensure that New Hampshire leads the way with innovative solutions. We must open new pathways to high-paying, stable careers for the next generation of workers. Opportunity abounds here in New Hampshire; however, the onus is on us to ensure that our programs match pace with our ever-changing, 21st century economy.

The recently announced New Hampshire Career Academy (NHCA) proposal is just the kind of initiative program that will help our already successful state prepare the next generation for a bright and successful future.

NHCA is a statewide charter school that will be embedded in and operated by the thriving Community College System of New Hampshire. It will allow high school students that enter into a “super-senior” year a NHCA with the opportunity to obtain a diploma, a free certificate program in a specific sector or an associate degree, and a job interview with a Granite State employer when they have completed their course work. NHCA creates a sustainable post-secondary education model for students without duplicating – or harming – other programs that already exist within the K-12 and post-secondary structures. It will also assist another initiative already championed by CCSNH: 65 by 25, the goal of helping 65 percent of New Hampshire’s adults who are 25 and older to have some form of post-secondary education during the next seven years.

NHCA is an ambitious and exciting endeavor, which is why the New Hampshire Department of Education and CCSNH are putting together an implementation team to bring this proposal to fruition. It will start with pilot programs, at first, but later, grow opportunities beyond what our students are already receiving. The end result will be a well-prepared, educated work force equipped with the skills and trades that our employers need now.

New Hampshire has been at the forefront of a number of initiatives for high school students that include work-based learning, career and technical centers, extended learning opportunities, apprenticeships, and internships. NHCA will provide our students yet another option when charting an educational and career path that is right for them while meeting the needs of tomorrow’s work force. It will become a welcome win-win for high school students, their parents, and our state’s business community looking for qualified, quality applicants.