The journey to build a career pathway Email
Wednesday, November 09, 2016 08:00 AM

Landscape Career Pathways Program
With the current labor shortage in the landscape industry, the slow but steady progress of the Landscape Career Pathway Program may seem frustrating. Waiting for graduates enter the industry may seem like forever. But when you consider the efforts that it took to reach this point in the process—where we might see graduates in the workforce as soon as next spring—it’s clear that the program has made considerable progress in less than two years.

ALCC volunteers and task forces partnered with Colorado Community College System (CCCS), beginning in late 2014, to build a pipeline that will bring high school students into the industry. Upon graduation, students will be job ready with basic skills, internship/job experience and seeing an upwardly mobile career path ahead of them.           

It all began in 2014, when Michael Womochil of CCCS led a discussion with about 40 landscape business leaders and 25 educators to determine if there would be industry support to develop a career pathway. The group’s consensus? Move forward! From January to April 2015, several ALCC task forces facilitated by Womochil met and identified jobs, respective skills and a career pathway related to each one. CCCS used this to create a map that shows the connection between industry skills and curriculum areas.

By fall 2015, meetings with educators at four Colorado High schools confirmed that they were on board with the Career Pathway Program. ALCC volunteers were in place as advisors and classroom speakers.

In January 2016, 28 teachers from throughout Colorado attended an all-day Irrigation 101 training hosted by Emerald Isle Landscaping and facilitated by several ALCC volunteers. CPS Distributors, Inc. provided parts at a discount for an “Irrigation System in a Box” that teachers assembled during the class, then disassembled, replaced in the box and took back to their classrooms. Another hands-on class was held in June at CSU to teach high school teachers about irrigation troubleshooting.

Last summer, an ALCC task force met with Emily Griffith Technical College, Denver, to develop an intensive boot camp that will train irrigation techs to be job ready for spring startup 2017. The curriculum will be based on the Landscape Training Manual for Irrigation Technicians developed by ALCC and points students toward becoming Landscape Industry Certified. The pathway is growing.

ALCC members have supported the program in many ways. In April 2016 all three of ALCC’s 2016 Day of Service projects took place at a school where there is interest in landscape-related programs. At Green Mountain High School, select students even worked alongside industry volunteers and learned hands-on skills as they constructed an outdoor learning lab for their program. High school teachers were invited to observe Landscape Industry Certified Technician Testing at Pickens Technical College, Aurora on September 24, 2016. And ALCC members will soon be hosting ride-alongs where high school teachers can experience what the industry does on a daily basis.

To date, the following high schools have Pathway programs underway for the 2016/2017 school year:
Arvada West High School | Arvada • Green Mountain High School | Lakewood
Englewood High School | Englewood • Platte Valley High School | Kersey
Falcon High School | Colorado Springs • Westminster High School | Westminster

Read more in this issue of Colorado Green NOW:
Timberline partners with Falcon High School on Career Pathways
Recruiting young people for the industry: what CSU’s Zach Johnson tells parents
The benefit of scholarships extends further than one student
Career pathways are nothing new for Pickens and FRCC grads

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