The National Academy Foundation (NAF) and ten of America’s top companies today announced NAFTrack Certified Hiring; a collaborative solution to a two-sided problem -- students graduating from high school unprepared for college and careers and industries managing a dearth of unskilled job applicants.
In committing to NAFTrack Certified Hiring, the initiatives’ founding partners -- AT&T, Cisco, EMC, HP, JPMorgan Chase, Juniper Networks, KPMG LLP, RBC Capital Markets US, Verizon, and Xerox -- promise to give special consideration to job applicants who, as high school graduates, earned a NAF credential. The companies’ recognition of the NAF Certified credential makes it a true differentiator in the hiring process as it holds real value to both the applicant and the employer.
The NAFTrack Certified Hiring announcement came at NAF Next, the non-profit’s annual conference that brings more than 1,400 NAF Academy students, educators, and business leaders together with policy makers in the Nation’s Capitol.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, in his keynote address to NAF this morning, said, “I applaud HP, Verizon, and all the companies taking part in this announcement, for giving priority to potential NAF hires with a credential that guarantees rigor, relevance, and readiness.” The Secretary emphasized the importance of ensuring that “every student graduates from high school truly prepared for college and careers, and goes on to gain some form of postsecondary education or credential,” and praised NAF’s efforts in addressing one of our nation’s most pressing issues. “With millions of unfilled jobs in this country, these kinds of partnerships between education and industry are key to closing the skills gap and improving how we train and prepare Americans for work,” he said.
Nicki Palmer, Chief Network Officer for Verizon Wireless remarked, “The future leaders of our industries are now in high schools all across the country. NAFTrack gives us a way to connect our world with theirs in a profound and productive manner and ensure those young women and men have the skills needed to succeed now and in the years to come.”
Imani Blackmon, who recently graduated from Magruder High School Academy of Finance in Rockville, MD was thrilled with the announcement saying “NAF illuminates the future and NAFTrack is the spark that helps young professionals shine bright. This will not only help students like me reach for the stars, but become one.”
NAF’s new “Certified Hiring” initiative is the culmination of years-long efforts by industry leaders and the realization of a vision set forth by NAF’s founder, Sandy Weill to create a rigorous system of academic and work-based learning experiences that prepare high school students for college and careers – especially those from low-income families who attend large, urban high schools.
According to NAF’s President, JD Hoye, “These are companies that realize they need to be part of preparing their workforce.” She continued, “By making this commitment to NAF credentialed students, these corporate leaders will have access to some of the best, brightest, and most prepared students in the country. We think being a ‘certified hiring’ partner is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do.”
John Hinshaw, HP’s Executive Vice President of Technology and Operations noted, “As employers, we know a NAF certified applicant is ready to take on the opportunities and challenges facing our organization today. This initiative recognizes the importance of that credential and provides us, as well as other industries, with a well-thought out roadmap for preparing students to become our future employees.
Together, NAF and corporate partners crafted the NAF Student Certification Assessment System (SCAS). It requires high school students to:
For their part, founding partners are committed to tangibly recognizing NAF Certified Graduates in otherwise equally qualified talent pools. Understanding that each founding partner has unique hiring processes and requirements, the commitment to NAFTrack Certified Hiring may include some combination of the elements listed below:
NAF is continuing to work with the founding partners to define additional NAFTrack Certified Hiring advantages and has plans to grow the number of NAFTrack Certified Hiring partner organizations as the program rolls out.
Founded by Sanford I. Weill, the National Academy Foundation (NAF) is an acclaimed network of career-themed academies that open doors for underserved high school students to viable careers. For more than 30 years, NAF has refined a proven model that provides young people access to industry-specific curricula, work-based learning experiences, and relationships with business professionals. NAF academies focus on one of five career themes: finance, hospitality & tourism, information technology, engineering, and health sciences. Nearly 5,000 business professionals volunteer in classrooms, act as mentors, engage NAF students in paid internships, and serve on local advisory boards. During the 2013-14 school year 70,000 students attended 565 NAF academies across 38 states, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In 2013, NAF academies reported 96% of seniors graduated.