Plant City Future Career Academy students visited Star Distribution Systems as part of the Business Field Trip. Students met with business leaders and employees to learn about the company's jobs, culture, training and more.

Future Career Academy (FCA) is a program that prepares non-college-bound high school seniors for the workforce, and it has caught the attention of the business community, the school district and now the PTA/PTSA.

On April 23, the Hillsborough County Council PTA/PTSA 2019-2020 High School Division Education Award was presented to FCA for its field trip component, which takes students to area businesses for an eye-opening look at workplaces in their community.

As business owners guide students through their facilities and show them the diverse jobs that exist there, the teens learn about a variety of careers and their salaries, benefits and advancement opportunities, and they begin to understand the commitment needed to earn and keep a job and what employers expect from their workers.

FCA began five years ago at Plant City High School and is presented by Workforce Development Partners Corp., a nonprofit organization in partnership with the Hillsborough County School District along with other businesses and organizations. The academy has already opened in eight other schools throughout Hillsborough County, serving about 3,000 students this year, with plans to continue to expand in the future.

While roughly 25 percent of high school students will earn a college degree, 75 percent will, instead, need a fulfilling, full-time job right after 12th grade. This sobering thought resonates with Rick Lott, mayor of the City of Plant City, in large part because of the time he spends working with FCA and lobbying for its support among the business community.

“The academy is vital for students and also has become an integral part of our city’s economic development strategy,” he said. “Students need to know that even if they don’t go to college, it’s OK. They can still be successful in life. And the program is extremely valuable to our businesses, who hire these prepared, competent young workers. These new employees, in turn, remain in the area, building industries and contributing to the community’s economic well-being.”

For more information about bringing FCA to your business or area high school, visit www.plantcitycareeracademy.com or call Yvonne Fry at 478-0494.