You may have heard the term “Career Clusters” and wondered what it is. Career Clusters is a college and career readiness initiative that groups similar occupation types and helps prepare students for their career of choice. The Career Cluster Initiative began in 1996 and brought education and industry training together so students could graduate with the job-ready skills needed to compete in the workforce. There are 16 different clusters that students can explore based on their own interests and aptitudes. In some cases, students can even take a personality test to see which cluster appeals most to them.
Career Clusters and the categorizing of industries is a large part of the Education Industry today. School Districts in the State of Texas are recognizing their importance and taking advantage of the many millions of dollars in funding available to those schools that develop career cluster programs in their districts. For this current 2012-2013 school year, all school districts are expected to have a Career Clusters program in place.
Career Clusters was launched in Texas with the introduction of Achieve Texas. The initiative pulls together K-12 schools, colleges, and businesses to support the success of students, and hence help improve the economy.
Schools accepting funds under the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins IV) must offer at least one career cluster program that bridges high school and post-secondary education, and leads to an industry-recognized credential or college degree.
The Perkins’ requirements put a lot at stake. Texas received over $92 million in Perkins funds in 2009-2010, a significant amount for today’s tight budgets. More importantly, Texas has chosen not to limit individuals by offering just one option for career cluster programs. Boldly, Texas embraced developing all 16 Career Clusters, assuring a well-educated, diverse and innovative workforce.
The 16 Career Clusters are:
• Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources
• Architecture & Construction
• Arts, A/V Technology & Communications
• Business Management & Administration
• Education & Training
• Government & Public Administration
• Health Science
• Hospitality & Tourism
• Human Services
• Information Technology
• Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security
• Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
• Transportation, Distribution & Logistics
The 16 Clusters represent almost all occupations, from entry-level to professional. They serve as a tool for designing curriculum, and improving education and career advising.
Through the Workforce Solutions website, students of all ages (and those who work with them) can access the Career Cluster Maps for the Texas Gulf Coast Region – maps that introduce middle school students to local labor market information. Charts detail High-Skill / High-Growth occupations. Advisors may add district information to the Word documents.
The Workforce Solutions website also has a number of other customized Career Planning Resources:
• Learn How to Build Your Career– a 5-minute career planning video in English, Spanish and closed captions, available from the Career Planning Resources page.
• When I Grow Up – TEKS aligned lessons for grades pre-K through 5 that promote career understanding.
• Focus On profiles – brief industry and occupation guides to learn about education tracks, career certifications, salaries and major employers for a specific occupation in the Houston-Galveston region. These documents include high school coursework recommendations.
• Choices Planner – online career assessment and planning tool.
• BlogForce – the Workforce Solutions employment experts post new career information every Monday.
The Workforce Solutions website also has a special section with information for Youth. Here you will find a Reality Check on how much salary you will need in the future to live and pursue your dreams. It also has a link to a student manual on “Landing That First Job!”
Linda Brown is an Employment Counselor at Workforce Solutions-Pasadena. She joined the local Texas Workforce Commission team in 2010 to gain grassroots experience with pathway implementation, after completing an assessment of the State’s initial Career Cluster initiative. Ms. Brown is a graduate of the UHCL master’s program in Studies of the Future specializing in employment forecasting and regional economic development. She is a certified science teacher, and has 7 years of college and career counseling experience.