In the 2015/16 school year, the Simulated Workplace program, which prepares students for careers in technology and engineering, expanded to 62 schools across West Virginia.
Since its implementation in the 2013-2014 school year, West Virginia Department of Education’s Simulated Workplace program has grown by 11,300 students, 43 schools and 417 classrooms.
The Simulated Workplace program transforms the typical classroom into a professional workplace that produces a product, or service and governs itself as an autonomous company.
In its first school year, 2013/14, 1,700 students participated in 84 Simulated Workplace classrooms in 19 schools throughout West Virginia.
In the 2014/15 school year, 5,800 students were enrolled in a Simulated Workplace in 230 classrooms in 45 schools.
In 2015/16, its third year of implementation, the program expanded to 62 schools, 501 classrooms and 13,000 students.
The 2016-2017 school year promises exponential growth as each career and technical education (CTE) classroom prepares to implement the Simulated Workplace program.
Simulated workplaces are student-led in that students act as employees and hold leadership roles. Simulated employees ascribe to essential workplace norms, such as the application process, clocking in and out, regular attendance, drug-testing, safety protocols and professionalism.
The Simulated Workplace is guided by local business and industry leaders.
The Simulated Workplace program works closely with local industry. Industry and Business Advisory Committees made up of local business and industry leaders oversee each classroom. The committees inspect the workplaces, provide speakers and often invite students to tour their own facilities.
In return, businesses that are involved gain a pipeline to a source of local employees that they know have the right technical skills, are motivated and reliable.
Many Simulated Workplace students have been offered internships and even full time jobs, as a result.
Students of Simulated Workplace are required to participate in random drug testing. This measure is focused on ensuring the safety of all students in an environment that can include heavy equipment and machinery. Most recent data shows that 98.6 percent of tested Simulated Workplace students passed drug testing.
The Simulated Workplace program was developed by West Virginia Department of Education’s Chief Officer of Career and Technical Education, Dr. Kathy D’Antoni Ed. D, with the goal of graduating more career and technical education (CTE) students with relevant and portable workplace skills.
Dr. D’Antoni convened a group of industry and business leaders, and educators to reconfigure the culture and hierarchy of the typical classroom.
The program is the first of its kind, and has inspired pilot programs in 13 other states and Australia.