YouScience, an innovative aptitude assessment program, will be provided for all students in grades sixth through twelfth beginning next year.
by: Kelly Schulz
Director, Community Information Services, Volusia County Schools
A new program for middle and high school students in Volusia County Schools will help those students uncover their natural skill sets and identify potential career pathways using those innate abilities. The Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce and Volusia County Schools, with support from CareerSource Flagler Volusia, are providing YouScience, an innovative aptitude assessment program, for all students in grades six through 12 beginning with the 2021-2022 academic year.
By helping students identify their natural talents, teachers and guidance counselors can use the program to assess a wide range of career opportunities in which others have already been successful. Finding a career path which leverages what someone likes to do and for which they have natural talent provides a sense of hope, relevance, and purpose.
“The partnership between Volusia County Schools, Daytona Regional Chamber, and CareerSource Flagler/Volusia has offered a unique opportunity for students to experience YouScience," said Scott Fritz, superintendent of Volusia County Schools. "Helping students prepare for college, career, and life is the ultimate goal. YouScience is one of the tools to help students find a career path.”
By identifying potential career pathways early, students will be able to engage the local business community to explore whether a given career field is truly interesting to them and something they would enjoy long-term. Through internships, apprenticeships, and job shadowing, students will be able to see the day-to-day experience prior to making a long-term commitment to classes supporting that career goal. Such career exploration also benefits local employers by connecting them with the future workforce and keeping talent within the community after their educational careers conclude.
“The workforce is most successful when their talent is aligned with the skills needed — whether that be future entrepreneurs or those who will work up the career path to be the CEO of any of our local businesses,” said Robin King, president and CEO of CareerSource Flagler Volusia. “Awareness is key, awareness of innate talent, awareness of opportunity and awareness of resources to get there. I am grateful that our local businesses understand the importance of their role in this endeavor.”
Daytona Regional Chamber President and CEO Nancy Keefer agrees.
“Our businesses need a talented workforce to grow and thrive. By helping each student uncover their natural gifts, the YouScience program gives them purpose, passion, and hope,” Keefer said. “Our community will benefit greatly by retaining the homegrown talent our schools are producing. We will all be the beneficiaries of the fulfillment and purpose students experience when each one knows they are valued and have something to contribute to our region.”
In addition to the benefit students receive, local industry and economic development efforts will also improve by identifying the talents within students and showing students where those talents can lead them. Economic development and business growth and expansion will be supported by anonymized, aggregate data uncovering talent clusters within the school district.
“The Daytona Regional Chamber has long recognized that a successful public school system is imperative to economic development in the Daytona Beach region by ensuring an educated workforce to attract and retain business,” said Len Marinaccio, principal owner and president of Bomar Construction, and 2021 Daytona Regional Chamber Chairman of the Board.
“The YouScience program will create a unique opportunity for area students to match their talents with their interests in determining the best career path for each individual. We believe that all area stakeholders will see immediate benefit from this innovative program,” Marinaccio said.
After completing their YouScience assessment, students receive an individualized profile which provides in-depth information on their natural abilities, career fields which match those skills, along with the job outlook, average salary, post-secondary education requirements, and local businesses that hire workers in those careers. The profile includes data on careers ranging from those which can begin with a high school diploma or trade certification to fields requiring advanced degrees. This allows students to choose the educational track that is best for them.
The partnership of the organizations involved also bodes well for the program’s success.
“One of the key roles of the Daytona Regional Chamber is bringing together stakeholders who wish to improve our community. The partnership of these organizations in this initiative is a fantastic example of the synergy created by working collaboratively,” Keefer said.
“CareerSource Flagler Volusia continuously seeks to meet our businesses needs of a talented workforce and under the umbrella of talent recruitment is the goal of keeping our graduates in our community,” King said, “I am delighted our Daytona Regional Chamber, with meeting business needs at the core of their mission, stepped up to bring that voice to our schools and our students.”
“As citizens of Volusia County, we all have a vested interest in the success of our students after graduating,” Fritz said. “We want students to have a clear pathway to graduate, to get additional training or degrees, and to work right here.”
“The Daytona Regional Chamber is excited to continue our longstanding partnership with Volusia County Schools as we work together to roll out the YouScience program to area students,” Marinaccio said.