Pathways Improvement Scope
Downey Unified School District (DUSD)—which enrolls 22,261 students (11,587 7th-12th graders)—sees an immediate and unmet opportunity to outfit a Los Angeles Regional priority sector Advanced Manufacturing (AM) workshop at Downey High School (DHS) to develop a new pathway in Plastics Engineering and Sustainability. LA County entry-level, middle-skill plastics industry jobs start at a living wage and increase to $82,000+/year with some training and postsecondary work. These occupations include: Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians (49-3011), 480 av. annual openings, expertise in plastic composites; Technologists and Technicians (17-3023, 17-3098, 17-3026), av. annual openings as high as 304; Machinists (51-4041), 908 av. annual openings; Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers, and Weighers (51-9061), 1,637 av. annual openings (COE, LA County Sector Analysis AM. 2021. https://coeccc.net/los-angeles/2021/09/la-sector-profile-advanced-manufacturing/). One of the biggest industry growth areas regionally is demand for Computer Numerically Controlled Machine Tool Programmers, Metal and Plastic (51-4012), with an anticipated 16.9% bump in jobs through 2028. Environmental Engineering Technicians (17-3023), focused on sustainable products, is expected to grow by 25.6% to 2028 (CA EDD 2018-2028 Employment Projections, Long-Term https://www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/data/employment-projections.html).
Goals & Priorities
DUSD will collaborate with partner Cerritos College (Technology Division) to offer DHS students dual enrollments and articulations in a 2-year course sequence in Plastics that will equip students with skills for entry-level industry jobs with living wages upon graduating from high school, and entry into postsecondary programs to pursue higher-level skills. The new pathway launch provides a means for DHS, a large, comprehensive campus with 4,314 students—65.3% of whom qualify for free and reduced-price lunch—to transition graduates to the workforce as middle-skill employees, promote CTE pathway completion, and expand living wage and above opportunities. The Plastics Engineering and Sustainability pathway at DHS will be launched as a 2-year pathway aligning to the District’s 2+2 model and enhancing an industry-centric CTE model grounded in academic rigor.
The pathway embeds industry certifications that are transferable across occupations, and include AutoCAD and SolidWorks, opportunities for Certified Production Technician (CPT) 4.0 (Manufacturing Skill Standards Council/MSSC) exams, and work-based learning (WBL). All courses are eligible for AP Seminar (year 1) and AP Research (year 2) credit. The 2-year pathway emphasizes career exploration and opportunities to go deeper into one industry sector or change based on interest between Plastics Engineering & Sustainability and Engineering/aerospace, Biotechnology, Welding, Alternative Fuels and Transportation, Robotics and Mechatronics (proposed), or Game Development. No pathways are required as a prerequisite for another pathway. All pathways require capstone projects that qualify to serve as portfolio work for college, university, or employer review.
Pathways implemented in 2022 include Advanced Manufacturing at Downey and Warren High Schools with full industry machine shops for students to work with manual (Acer and Kent) mills, lathes, and Haas CNC mills and lathes. Students earn college articulation and/or college credits with Cerritos College. Machining and Forming Technologies I is currently offered at DHS, and a 2nd course is in development.
K12 SWP funds will also support a new position of CTE Data Analyst to support data collection, reporting, and internal data dissemination.
Industry Sector(s) Or Pathway(s)