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How Career Academies Prepare Students for Working Life

Ask a group of preschoolers, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and firefighter usually makes the list of dream jobs—as do ballerina and superhero. Firefighting is a profession glorified in media and children’s books, but most childhood aspirations don’t become a reality. Experienced firefighters are in high demand across the country—in small towns, medium-size cities, and major urban areas. So school officials and county leaders in Pensacola, Florida, came up with a novel solution to address its firefighter shortage: Grow your own.

Starting in the 2016 school year, a new career academy at Pine Forest High School will recruit and enroll students interested in a firefighting job. “Not only is it good for students, but employers … see these high-school career academies as a feeder for [recruiting and hiring] employees,” Michelle Taylor, the workforce-education director for the Escambia County School District, said in the Pensacola News Journal.