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Regional Occupational Program Revamped

The Regional Occupational Program has been in existence in CA for more than 4 decades and it is designed to help high school students gain knowledge and skills for future careers. Tuition free classes are offered at the high school with paid/unpaid internships in the local business community with areas of focus in theory aligned to local market demands. Students get exposure to programs that teach them basic skills in various industries such as business, retail and marketing, service industry and even healthcare including pharmacy tech programs. The ROP program offerings could be expanded focus on today's fastest fastest growing fields globally to include green technology, real estate, construction and manufacturing with a peer component.

Photo of Nancy Wei
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- offer the program in communities that have the lowest employment rates
- add a peer to peer mentoring component for graduates of the program who have found employment to serve as speakers for the current classes
- partner with businesses in the communities looking to grow access to a skilled or trainable labor pool; businesses to provide classroom instructors or onsite internships for students.

Who does this idea benefit, who are the main players and what's in it for them?

This idea benefits youth and businesses in the community. Youth will gain access to a structured learning program that is relevant in today's economy and be better positioned to join the workforce upon high school graduation, especially if circumstances do not allow for a 4-year college education. Businesses benefit from helping to build a talented labor pool in the communities they operate in from which they can later source employees.

How is your idea specifically increasing access to employment opportunities and pathways for young people?

It provides relevant skills in today's fastest growing industry. With the peer mentorship component, it offers motivation and role modeling. A user may start a program knowing nothing about the professional skills required in the workplace and without any technical skills, and finish the program eligible to apply to an entry level construction job or tech service job in the community.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Approach existing ROP programs and propose curriculum additions aligned with today's fasted growing fields like green tech and healthcare tech. Align local companies in this space to offering an employee volunteer program to help teach classes at the high schools and set up internships.

What skills, input or guidance are you keen to receive from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

What fields are most likely to offer trainable positions? How can we get the communities in most need to start offering ROP programs to their youth?

The idea emerged from:

  • An individual

How do you envision your idea being implemented?

  • I'm more throwing the idea out there to inspire potential implementers

2 comments

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Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Great expansion of an existing program, Nancy. Do you plan to seek feedback from folks at ROP & share it here? I wonder what aspects of their existing program they have found challenging that folks here could help brainstorm on overcoming and stretching beyond into the areas you suggest? We also wonder whether there might be lessons from this program which could help fuel fresh thinking for your idea: https://openideo.com/challenge/youth-employment-pathways/research/youthbuild-usa-providing-green-jobs-and-affordable-housing-for-youth Looking forward to seeing your idea evolve...

Photo of Nancy Wei
Team

I agree - gathering insights from the existing program would be super valuable to informing opportunities and challenges within the existing framework as a first step, and thanks for the link to YouthBuild!