10 May 2017

Grand County Colorado Student to Career Opportunity Initiative

Grand County Colorado Student to Career Opportunity Initiative

Grand County Higher Education Director, Dr. Scott Springston, is excited about a broad based collaborative focus on the Grand County Colorado Student to Career Opportunity Initiative.  The focus of this initiative is to prepare the high school graduates in our county with high level college and career readiness skills and experiences.  The genesis is to link the relevancy of the content knowledge with interconnected 21st century workforce skills and attributes learning opportunities.

Employers in the Grand County area are concerned about the availability and readiness of young workers.  Meanwhile, many students indicate that they are not aware of the variety of quality jobs available locally and what skills are needed to secure these jobs.  The Student to Career Opportunity Initiative (STCO) is focused on addressing this gap as a significant opportunity for growing our economy and attracting young people to stay or return to pursue their career goals.

Grand County Colorado Student to Career Opportunity Initiative is pursuing opportunities for employers and community leaders to come along side our schools to enhance career and technical education, and career readiness of students through apprenticeships, entrepreneurship education, and also community service projects where youth and adults work together to improve their communities for young adults to live and work.

The Initiative will also address student retention, high school graduation, college enrollment and completion, and academic achievement disparities due to demographic, geographic and economic factors.  These will be addressed though engagement of our students in pursuit of their passions and abilities in ways that develop the skills they need to be successful in a 21st century workforce and as entrepreneurs mentored by successful business owners and managers in our region.

The Grand County Colorado Student to Career Opportunity Initiative will include seven key program elements:

  1. Engagement of junior high and high school students considering pursuit of local career and entrepreneurial business opportunities. Students will be identified through school counselors using career aptitude assessments and activities where students can explore potential career and entrepreneurial business opportunities.  Students involved in the initiative will also be invited to participate in civic leadership and community improvement projects to develop the amenities important to young people seeking to live in our region.
  2. Assessment of workforce demands and specific skill needs of area employers seeking to grow and hire talent in the next 2 to 5 years utilizing employer interviews and data from Northwest Colorado Workforce Center. The career opportunities and workforce data gathered will be provided to school counselors to help match student career interests with apprenticeships, and applied learning activities with educators working with employers to prepare students for job opportunities they wish to pursue.
  3. Inventory of certification and degree requirements for job opportunities identified through the employer assessment; inventory current certification and degree programs available and identify where gaps exist to be addressed by the initiative partners for program implementation.
  4. Engagement of the post-secondary education, technical training and non-profit resource partners who provide programming to address the workforce and skills requirements of employers, including necessary certification and degree requirements. Activities will include working with educators and employers to enhance articulation between academic programs and curriculum with workplace-based training and preparing employers to be effective student mentors.
  5. Enrollment of students in career training, certification and degree programs, with mentoring opportunities by employers seeking to hire initiative graduates, thereby helping students to apply their learning in real world settings and to be prepared to enter the workforce upon graduation. Activities to enhance career training, certification and degree programs will include; 1) resume writing support and preparation for interviews with employers providing student apprenticeships and summer employment, 2) opportunities for students to gain work experience and develop their skills through apprenticeships and summer employment in career fields they are pursuing academically, and 3) evaluation with employers and students of learning gained through these experiences with feedback to students regarding their performance and areas for improving their skills and career readiness as part of their academic and career plan.
  6. Evaluation of the results of the initiative through data collection and interviews with employers, students and educators, and make needed adjustments. Engage local foundations, business partners, local government and regional program partners with local school districts to sustain and enhance the initiative.
  7. Celebration of the success of students and employers in the initiative to reinforce the value of their contributions and to encourage additional students and employers to become involved. Also, share the learning gained from the initiative with other communities and regions of Colorado seeking to implement similar programs.


The Grand County, Colorado Student to Career Opportunity Initiative has the reality of providing transformation and transactional experiences for the high school students in Grand County.  Our commitment is to building partnerships between the students, parents, school staff, businesses and support organizations to leverage County wide opportunities to fully immerse high school students in on-site structured internship experiences.  Students will apply core knowledge, learn the desired employability skills bosses are looking for and most importantly- gain experiential learning opportunities that may lead to a college and career pathway post high school graduation.

For more information please contact Dr. Scott Springston, Grand County Higher Education Director, at springstonsec@gmail.com or at http://scottspringston.com/

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