Coding Grant Helps North Carolina Students Explore In-Demand Career Options

Written by Timm Boettcher – Realityworks President and CEO

In Beaufort County, North Carolina, programmers are in high demand. Job forecasts conducted by local workforce development boards show a 94% growth rate for programming jobs among 27 eastern NC counties from 2016-2021; programming skills, along with tooling, machine and drone operation skills, have been among the most in-demand job skills listed by local and regional manufacturing businesses for three straight years.

When Beaufort County Schools (BCS) saw an opportunity to fund an extension of the district’s coding program into K-12 classrooms across the district and at the local community college, administrators didn’t hesitate to apply. Last fall, North Carolina Superintendent Mark Johnson announced that 16 school districts, including Beaufort County, had been awarded grants totaling $800,000 through the second round of the Coding and Mobile App Development Grant Program, which was launched in 2017 with funding from the state’s general assembly.

“BCS’s strategic STEM plan, the use of Digital Learning Competencies training, and the injection of real-world needs provided through our advisory process and partnerships with our local industries produced the perfect conditions for synergy around STEM including coding,” said Wendy Petteway, BCS Career and Technical Education Department Director. “We needed to expand beyond where we were and extend coding into K-12 across the district and at Beaufort County Community College, and the coding grant has provided the opportunity for that expansion.”

Click here to read the entire article, which was originally posted in ACTE’s IndustryConnect blog in March 2019. 

Reflections on VISION 2016: Why I’m Proud of the Realityworks Team

By Timmothy Boettcher, President & CEO of Realityworks, Inc.

2015 ACTE Business Leader of the Year

Last week, the Realityworks team had the pleasure of exhibiting our experiential learning tools at the largest gathering for Career and Technical Education professionals across the country: the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE)’s CareerTech VISION 2016 Conference. As President and CEO of Realityworks, Inc., and a member of ACTE’s Board of Directors, I was extremely proud to be exhibiting and presenting at such a gathering for several reasons

We debuted over a dozen new products for technical education. Educators have long been telling us of their need for innovative new ways to provide targeted skills training and prepare their students for careers. As Chair of the Industry Workforce Needs Coalition and the Western Wisconsin Workforce Development Board, I have seen first-hand the importance of ensuring that today’s students have the chance to learn relevant job skills. The Realityworks team worked hard over the last year to research and design several new products that help educators engage students and prepare them for success in the workforce, and the ability to get live, in-person feedback from the very professionals we designed them for is truly exciting.

Timmothy Boettcher of Realityworks at ACTE's CareerTech VISION 2016

Watch Timmothy Boettcher, President & CEO of Realityworks, Inc., review Realityworks’ new products at ACTE’s CareerTech VISION 2016 Conference, which took place in Las Vegas December 1 & 2.

 

We connected with our customers. We wouldn’t be the company we are today if it weren’t for the dedicated, passionate educators who support us. From the teachers who first used RealCare Baby® (our flagship product) over two decades ago to those who now implement our new Geriatric Simulator in their health occupations programs and our virtual reality welding simulator in their welding programs, we are thankful for each and every one of them – and we jump at the chance to thank them in person.

We created and fostered partnerships with educators. We are dedicated to meeting the needs of 21st Century educators, and are excited to announce several new solutions to help them engage their students and prepare them for success in the workforce. Attending events like ACTE allows us to learn what educators are struggling with in the classroom and what they are interested in exploring in the upcoming year. That knowledge gives us insight into what is on the horizon for Career and Technical Education, which, in turn, helps ensure we can create products and programs that are truly useful to today’s educators.

Our success as a company depends on remaining profitable, yet profitability alone does not define our success. We measure our impact by how many lives are changed in positive ways, and how profoundly they are changed, as a result of our efforts. The recent Career and Technical Education conference was a wonderful opportunity to connect with our employees and our customers, and I am already looking forward to next year.

Can Education Impact the Skills Gap?

By Emily Kuhn, Realityworks Marketing Automation Specialist

In an August 19th article published in Bloomberg Business Week, it was reported that there are currently 4.7 million job openings in the US, more so in more than a decade. However, there are 9.7 million people currently looking for work. The article author, rightly so, enquires: how can there be so many unemployed people in the face of so many job openings?

Furthermore, could early education in career areas make a difference?  

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One perceived reason for the skills gap is that job-seekers do not have the science, technology, math and engineering (STEM) skills needed to fill in-demand jobs.

The disparity between the skills job-seekers currently have and the skills employers need to fill open positions is what’s known as the “skills gap.” A variety of factors are thought to be contributing to this gap; depending on who you ask, you might hear any of the following:

  • Employers are not offering competitive wages, especially for in-demand jobs.
  • Employers are not providing necessary on-the-job training.
  • Job-seekers lack the soft skills (like time management abilities, interpersonal communication and a positive attitude) that employers need to succeed.
  • Job-seekers do not have the science, technology, math and engineering (STEM) skills needed to fill in-demand jobs such as skilled trade workers, accounting and finance professionals, IT staff and engineers.

Early education in career areas could indeed make a difference in the skills gap, and that education is being provided in CTE programs. By combining academics with career-focused training, CTE programs provide students with both academic skills (including that in-demand STEM knowledge) and career-specific skills. This combination leaves them ready to succeed whether they choose to continue their education or enter the workforce.

Realityworks President Timm Boettcher recently stated the following in an EdNET Insight newsletter:

Although CTE has evolved to encompass rigorous academics, advanced technology, and postsecondary education and career pathways, improved alignment between the educational system and industry is needed. By connecting and communicating with local and regional industry representatives, education officials can take the first step in establishing the engaging CTE programs that will not only help those U.S. employers fill qualified positions but also ensure the strength of our nation’s workforce, global competitiveness, and economic health.

A report released earlier this year from CareerBuilder explores the perceptions and behaviors surrounding the skills gap. We recommend exploring it, and the website of the Industry Workforce Needs Council, to learn more about the skills gap and how education and training – like that of career and technical (CTE) education programs – can address it.

How do you think education can impact the skills gap? Share your thoughts in the comments!