Elk Grove High School Continues Filling Skills Gap
Workers in modern manufacturing, more often than not these days, are required to have advanced programing skills. Elk Grove High School is graduating students with the skills to fill those 21st century jobs.
Late last month, U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-8th) toured classrooms at Elk Grove where career skills are taught. He observed students using the latest computer-aided milling machines, those specializing in health care careers, a graphic design lab, computer coding and software development, a “law and equity” classroom modeled after a Cook County courtroom, to a daycare center in the school where future teachers can get practical experience in a classroom setting.
Elk Grove’s Career Pathways program includes professional programs in fields ranging from agriculture, architecture, drafting, design and engineering, to journalism and broadcasting, to government administration and social services.
The school also works with advisory councils in several professional areas of automotive and advanced manufacturing, offering advice on industry trends. Several years ago, a business involved with the Manufacturing Advisory Council at EGHS donated computer-aided manufacturing machines, which are now used in the school’s advanced manufacturing lab.
Township High School Dist. 214 works with area community colleges allowing students to receive both college credit before graduation, along with professional certifications. Certifications are offered in areas ranging from woodworking equipment to early childhood education, to certified nursing assistant, food handling, cosmetology, computer information technology, automotive repair, and in the use of advanced manufacturing machines such as computer numeric control machines, often called “CNC” machines, which cut and shape metal.
During his tour, Krishnamoorthi observed a high-tech lathe machine in action, saw students working on advanced computer-aided drafting projects, and a graphics lab where students were designing graphics the school and community groups might use.
In July 2017, three students received gold medals in the Automated Manufacturing Technology category of the SkillsUSA national conference in Louisville, KY. The event drew more than 6,000 students competing in 100 categories related to advanced manufacturing and academics.
A bill introduced by Krishnamoorthi — the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act — was signed into law by President Donald Trump in late July. The bill mandates high schools build career programs like EGHS already has in place, and increases federal funding for career and technical education by $1.3 billion. The new law mandates schools consult businesses to align curriculum with current business needs.
During the school tour, Krishnamoorthi told Dist. 214 officials the federal legislation “will put these programs on steroids.”
Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson had high praise for the quality of students coming out of Elk Grove High’s career programs into local businesses. He said there are students who took their training from EGHS and are making “six figures” just a few years after graduation.
For the past few years, the village held its Made in Elk Grove Expo at Elk Grove High School. The event is attended by business leaders and public officials, including several visits by Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Author: Tom Robb