By WRAL Tech Wire STEM News

RALEIGH, N.C. – Showcasing the real-world relevance of what students learn in the classroom to the needs of today’s workforce may just help graduation rates rise throughout the state.

Governor Bev Perdue has declared this week as Students@Work Week.

Schools and businesses across North Carolina will join First Gentleman Bob Eaves today in kicking off Students@Work Week. The goal is to raise North Carolina’s graduation rate by offering middle school students a chance to connect what they are learning in class with future career opportunities.

More than 20,000 middle school students in all 100 North Carolina counties will be taking part in job shadowing and job mentoring programs until Friday, according to the North Carolina Business Committee for Education (NCBCE) and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

“North Carolina’s business community is an important partner with our state’s schools,” said NCBCE Chair Dale Whitworth. “The more chances we have to mentor to our students in the workplace, the more likely we are to develop an interest in continuing their education.”

More than 100 businesses will take part in the program giving students an opportunity to learn firsthand about careers in health care, the legal system, the tourism industry, banking, biotechnology, energy production, and even how to refurbish a computer.

The Students@Work initiative focuses its efforts on middle school students because middle school is a crucial time for dropout prevention. According to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, more than 25 percent of North Carolina children do not complete high school.

“Dropping out doesn’t just limit a young person’s options,” said Eaves. “It affects the economic prosperity of our state. Exploring careers through job shadowing is a way for students to see that they can have a bright future and that education is the key to that future.”

A complete list of participating organizations and more information can be found at www.ncbce.org.

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