The Jo B. Wall HR Connection Academy: A Non-profit Connecting Students with HR Careers

By Sheryl Eldridge

Human Resources (HR) represents and connects to all Career Clusters, with HR knowledge being an absolute must for all individuals in the workplace or preparing to transition to the world of work. Direct career pathways include:

  • Human Resources Development

  • Compensation and Benefits

  • Employee and Labor Relations

  • Risk Management


There are many more indirect HR career pathways that can be discovered, explored, and pursued prior to the transition to college or the workplace. Unfortunately, young adults don’t have the opportunity to learn about this high-valued career pathway until they have made this transition.



Most HR professionals first discovered HR as a possible career opportunity during college while studying another subject, while in a management role in a different function, or just by chance. Time and money might be lost while being involved in other coursework during school years. With the array of career pathways afforded with HR education, one of the solutions is the introduction, discovery, and exploration through coursework and work-based learning opportunities during the K-12 school years. This key career-planning step would allow young adults who wish to pursue an HR-connected career to make a more informed choice as they prepare to transition to college or the world of work.



Introducing HR to Students


Embedded within the Business Management & Administration Career Cluster offered by the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEC) you will find Human Resources Management. This definitely offers an introduction to one HR-connected career pathway, but there is so much more that could be offered to K-12 students that would enhance their knowledge in this area. More topics to share with students include:


  • One of the many responsibilities of the HR practitioner is that of representing all areas within the organization. This is the primary connection of HR to all other Career Clusters.

  • HR professionals must have a very broad skill set within their given role and industry including working within other business functional areas.

  • HR, known as the “change agent,” is on the forefront of changes taking place in their current workplace, the field, and with competitors, technology, as well as other economic events.



How to Incorporate HR Education into the K-12 Setting


Our non-profit found that HR-connected material can be incorporated in a variety of ways, using a variety of means. Subtle changes, providing informal education to the educators (mirroring train-the-trainer), to more innovative solutions can be implemented given the right collaboration and buy-in with local leaders, state education representatives, as well as stakeholders within communities. Some examples include:


  • In the earlier school years, introduce key terminology and connect current curriculum and practices to what the youth are learning both in the classroom as well as in recreation. Build upon this learning with progressive education from the beginning to each grade thereafter.

  • Leadership and real-world opportunities; provide venues for young children to “own” responsibilities and lead a role. Example: students selling handmade bracelets at school for profit toward a cause.

  • Utilizing the massive amount of resources available through the regulatory agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Check out the articles wherein the EEOC sponsored an artwork and essay contest to include youth in the 35th anniversary celebration of the agency.

  • Educators can connect core and CTE curriculum to HR careers, such as how math is used in compensation of employees in the workplace or how HR touches each Career Cluster.

  • Offering HR education as a stand-alone Career Cluster or Academy. Many of our high schools have Academies in varying fields. One such example of this great idea is in Lee County, NC. According to a news article, the collaboration among community stakeholders and education systems allowed for a positive outcome in more ways than just learning about a specific career. Given the broad HR connection to all Career Clusters, plus the exciting high volume of career pathway opportunities, consider what an HR-connected Career Academy could offer.

  • Teach basic HR-related information early in the students' school years. Focus on:

    • How to apply for a position

    • Creating an effective resume

    • Interviewing techniques

    • How to complete new-hire paperwork

    • Knowledge of workplace benefits

    • Employee and employer rights and responsibilities

    • Explain the many soft skills that come into play during the full transition cycle, such as effective communication skills, what students can offer to an employer that sets them apart from other applicants, and

    • How to “market” themselves for the job.



Non-Profits Can Take Action

The human resource career pathways are vast as are the methods to share this knowledge. Whether students wish to pursue HR or another Career Cluster pathway, they each will need to have basic to advanced HR knowledge before entering the world of work.

Incorporating HR material in the K-12 setting will provide an additional supplement for students to learn all these things and to keep up with the changing world and events in the workplace. As career development practitioners, we need to keep in mind that anyone who ever wants to lead or manage others will be using HR skills. Why not teach those skills from a young age?




NASDCTEc At-a-Glance: http://www.careertech.org/who-we-are/





Lee County: http://www.sanfordherald.com/education/x1505316662/Career-prep-programs-a-hit-with-local-students


St. George’s Independent School: http://www.sgis.org/page.cfm?p=5806


EEOC: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/history/35th/visions/index.html



Sheryl EldridgeSheryl Eldridge, CDF, creator/owner of H&L Support Services, has over 20 years of HR experience, and formed her company in 2006 to provide HR support to businesses. Sheryl has also been involved with in-depth research of how HR education is connected to the career development arena. After being awarded the runner up 2010 Mentor Award by ADECCO, which offered a $1000 education stipend, Sheryl used that gift by enrolling in the Learn North Carolina Online Teacher (COLT) certification program, which she completed in 2013. During the past couple of years, Sheryl has designed and developed three online HR-connected courses, one of which involved collaboration with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Sheryl has been a Career Coach for Future for Kids (F4K) and most recently joined the Development/Public Relations Committee with the nonprofit agency, Stokes Partnership for Children. She is also a Certified Career Development Facilitator (CDF) through NCDA. Sheryl can be contacted at sheryl@hlsupportservices.com.



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1 Comment

Vijay Paralkar    on Friday 08/01/2014 at 10:38 PM


I am glad to read this article. I am confident about students will get connected with non-profits using the resources that you have provided.

Thank you so much for this very useful and rare article

Congratulations on your achievements.

With warm regards


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the comments shown above are those of the individual comment authors and do not reflect the views or opinions of this organization.