The California Department of Education announced this May that the Verdugo Creative Technology Consortium had won the advanced digital media training grant.
The Verdugo consortium consists of the Glendale and Burbank school districts, Glendale Community College, Cal State Northridge and the Verdugo Workforce Investment Board.
The Verdugo Workforce Investment Board will work directly with the schools and colleges to advise them on job demands in the industry and use that information to help shape educators’ curriculum.
The most prominent industry in the area — entertainment — is undergoing a digital revolution and local employers such as Disney and DreamWorks Animation are still adapting to an emerging model, said Don Nakamoto, director of the investment board.
Where entertainment was once primarily accessed through platforms such as motion pictures, television and DVDs, a growing audience is consuming content on mobile devices.
“There’s a radical switch that’s occurring,” Nakamoto said. “Students have to begin to learn what’s happening in the industry…We have to position our students with the right type of education. Otherwise, local companies are going to hire overseas or work is going to go to other states,” Nakamoto said.
Doug Dall, principal of Clark Magnet High School, welcomes the grant’s strategic initiative.
“It really is a game changer,” he said. “It’s a marriage of the business partners, of the industry, of the students of the districts — at all levels.”
Digital manufacturing and digital media are local focus points, and the grant will pave the way for local educators to be trained in those areas and set up students with employers in the industry for job shadowing and mentoring.
Dall imagined the collaboration between districts and colleges could also make it possible for students to design a mechanical part in Burbank, send the information on the part electronically to Glendale Community College where students could produce it with a 3-D printer.
“It would be a whole new way of doing things,” Dall said. “We’re really getting to a point where we’re knocking down the walls of education programs. This is an opportunity to really live what’s being done in industry at this point.”
In Burbank, educators will focus on digital media and invest in new computer labs and state-of-the-art software.
Employees from big-name partners, including Warner Bros. Entertainment, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network will assist secondary students with mentorships and training, said Sharon Cuseo, director of instruction and accountability for Burbank Unified.
“They can tell us what our kids need to learn to get us out in that field,” she said.
The community college and local districts have partnered on developing career pathways since the 1990s, said Jan Swinton, dean of workforce development for Glendale Community College.
“The [consortium] is another way we all come together as a community,” she said.
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