New partnership between Pittsburgh Public Schools and city prepare students for success

PITTSBURGH — Look at some of these great businesses based right here in Pittsburgh. It’s intimidating even for adults to talk to some of the CEOs of these companies, let alone teenagers.

Argo AI founder and CEO Bryan Salesky joined in on creating yet another pathway for Pittsburgh public school students as part of Mayor Ed Gainey’s initiative, Pathways to Prosperity.

“You’re in a special time and place here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,” said Salesky. “This is a place where you have businesses that are opening their arms wanting to take you in, show you what we do and bring you in as part of the fabric of the economy here in the region. You may not feel like sometimes those doors are open. You may not know how to make that happen. So I’m here to commit to you today that you can come talk to me personally.”

Salesky made that personal commitment in front of 150 seniors enrolled in the Pittsburgh Public Schools Career and Technical Education program.

“Today is all about painting the picture that there’s a lot of different ways to start a successful career, and Pittsburgh is a great city to be in right now because there are so many great companies that have great job opportunities that are out there right now,” said Salesky.

The new partnership between the City of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Public Schools and local businesses is being called Prepare to Prosper. The goal of the partnership is to connect students enrolled in the CTE program with local companies to show students where to find future career opportunities.

“You can marry this thing called ‘the streets’ and birth a lifetime of problems that you will spend your whole life trying to overcome; or you can marry this thing called education and birth a lifetime of opportunity,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey.

At least 50 companies, including Partner4Work, have already committed to opening their doors to students in the CTE program.

“Walking over here, I thought about why this initiative was so important,” said Partner4Work CEO Robert Cherry. “And there’s a few statistics, two in particular. During the pandemic, the only age group to grow in the labor force were individuals 16-24. That’s all of you. Also, on the flip side of that coin, when it comes to risk factors that will lead to a barrier that would make it harder for you to be employed, the highest risk age group is 16-24. And that’s why we’re here today to throw our support behind you; to tell you we believe in you. And there are so many opportunities and careers out here if you’re willing to take advantage of them.”

PPS students can begin enrolling in CTE in 10th grade. About 550 students are currently signed up in the program.

“You do not need a college degree to be successful in order to work at any of the companies here in Pittsburgh,” said Salesky. “If you want to go to college, that’s a great pathway, but there’s so many others that are out there.”

The pathway set up through this new partnership moves students from shadowing opportunities to paid internships to full-blown careers.

“We are grateful to the multiple industry partners who have stepped up to provide work-based learning opportunities and employment for the graduates of CTE,” said Angela Mike, Executive Director of Career and Technical Education for Pittsburgh Public Schools. “Today, we celebrate the expansion of our partnership with the City of Pittsburgh that will ensure there are no dead ends for the students at Pittsburgh Public Schools — only opportunities.”

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