The Clark County School District is accepting student applications for a new school opening in August that focuses on construction technology and advanced manufacturing, two industries officials say are huge in Southern Nevada and continuing to grow.
Gia Moore, the district’s director of college and career readiness and school choice, said the yet-to-be-named technical training academy will set up students for careers in these fields by providing them with opportunities to earn experience and credentials, such as general safety training for construction sites and business and entrepreneur skills.
Classes in the construction program will cover general construction skills, as well as foundational skills related to electrical, plumbing and HVAC and framing systems, the district said. Meanwhile, classes in the manufacturing program will focus on safety, engineering design, power systems and principles related to electronics and instrumentation.
The school was developed with input from partners including Workforce Connections, a Southern Nevada local workforce development board, and the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance, an economic development agency, Moore added.
The school, located on Maryland Parkway and Oakey Boulevard in downtown Las Vegas, is expected to serve at least 250 students in its first year, and to expand in future years.
The new academy comes as the manufacturing sector is experiencing a significant increase in demand for skilled and technical workers while the industry shifts toward automation and robotics integration, according to the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance’s 2022 Workforce Blueprint. The new jobs created amid this shift are expected to be more complex and require specialized training or education, and will yield higher-paying entry-level jobs.
Infrastructure-focused companies in areas such as construction and civil engineering are also experiencing difficulties finding workers, according to the blueprint. A third of those jobs are considered hard to fill because of “labor shortages and misalignment between workforce development and industry demand, along with access to career pathways and worker retirements.”
“So this is our effort and being responsive to that as well as putting these students into career pathways that are really lucrative that allow for them to really grow as professionals, and the opportunity to go in multiple pathways regarding each of these programs,” Moore said.
The school is accepting applications now through May 2 from interested sophomores across the district with at least eight credits, including one English and one math credit, earned by the end of 2021-22 school year, according to the school’s online FAQ sheet. It will only serve juniors in its first academic year, and will add seniors the following year.
Small class sizes of about 25 students will be a hallmark of the school, in part for safety reasons. The students will be working with specialized equipment, including power tools, said Lilianna Bonderov, who will serve as the school’s principal.
The new academy will be a good match for students looking for flexibility in their class schedules, as some of the courses will be offered in a hybrid or distance format, giving them the opportunity to do some of their coursework outside of class time, according to online promotional information for the school.
The hope is that this will allow students the time to apply the skills they are learning in classes to internships, apprenticeships or other work-based learning experiences. The school will connect students to these opportunities through an on-site One-Stop Career Center in partnership with Workforce Connections, Moore said.
“They can serve as a great conduit to connect our students as well as their families … with these opportunities and experiences,” she said. “We have to be able to get them engaged in what this actually looks like out in the workforce, not just speak about it hypothetically in class.”
The school is also trying to target students who may not be succeeding academically at a traditional Clark County high school, Bonderov said.
“We’re trying to re-engage them in their education efforts through this work avenue and we’ll be offering some credit recovery opportunities for students who might be behind in their credits and need some additional opportunities to get those credits towards graduation,” she said.
Unlike other high schools or career and technical academies (CTA) in the district, this technical training academy won’t offer certain curricular and extracurricular opportunities such as honors and Advanced Placement classes, music or sports programs, though Bonderov said students may still be able to take advanced-level courses through the Nevada Learning Academy or Apex Learning, which provides distance education courses that have been approved by the Nevada Department of Education. Students will also have a chance to participate in career and technical organizations such as SkillsUSA.
Bonderov said the school is also exploring offering concurrent enrollment opportunities that would allow some students to stay at their home school during the day, and pursue industry certification opportunities at the technical training academy in the evening.
“Our focus really is on getting students job skills and job experience, and we want them to make sure that they have that flexibility in their schedule to go pursue employment, to shadow, to intern —whatever is going to get them a leg up when it comes time to graduate — and then deciding to either go into the workforce or continue their education in one of these skilled areas,” Bonderov said.
The new technical training academy isn’t the only new school the Clark County School District has in the works. The district is planning to open two CTA schools over the next few years. The first is a CTA school in North Las Vegas that Moore said will offer an array of programming, including energy technologies and human and social services. That’s expected to open for the 2023-24 school year.
The second is a CTA school in Henderson that is slated to open for the 2024-25 school year. That school will include programs such as health science and sports medicine, and Moore said the district is hoping to connect that school with the Raiders training facility that will be located nearby.
The Clark County School District has seven career and technical academies that serve more than 11,000 students, according to enrollment numbers from the Nevada Department of Education.