Rodney Johnson, 19, didn’t even know what HVAC was before his high school career counselor suggested he apply to the Tulane Cowen Institute’s Earn and Learn Career Pathways program after graduation. Following his hands-on apprenticeship with Tulane Facilities Services, Johnson landed a full-time job at Tulane as a heating, ventilation and air conditioning technician and plans to one day own his own company.
“Without Earn and Learn,” Johnson said, “I don’t know where I would be.”
Johnson is among a group of young people called “opportunity youth.” Often, they hold low-wage jobs with little chance for advancement. They may have experience with the juvenile justice system or unstable living and transportation conditions, which handicaps their ability to hold a job.
The goal of the Earn and Learn program is to change that track. The program is open to young people in New Orleans between the ages of 18 and 24 who have earned a high school diploma and are looking to advance their careers.
Celebrating its fifth anniversary, Earn and Learn was developed from job market projections specific to New Orleans and is one of only a handful of its kind in the country.