Tampa-based entrepreneur Sheffie Robinson recognized just how big the “education to industry gap” was when she was helping her son schedule out classes for his junior year of high school.
Her son needed calculus to work towards his goal of becoming a mechanical engineer. But since that class wasn’t offered, it would take the community college and the school board coming together to “create a calculus class for him and six other students that had the same issue.”
Robinson had been building in the AI space and saw an opportunity to repurpose her tech startup to “guide students toward their ideal careers, connect them with local resources, help them train in those careers, and provide them with opportunities to work with businesses as interns.”
Shamrck, where Robinson serves as Founder, CEO, CTO, and Clinical Sociologist, works to connect students with post-secondary opportunities in the 4Es: Employment, Enlistment, Enrollment, and Entrepreneurship. “These pathways are general enough to encompass the complete post-secondary journey while providing efficient paths for students to know what they should be doing in high school to prepare them for the next step,” Robinson told Hypepotamus.
That might look like providing info on colleges that meet their individual needs, helping them review various job code requirements, or providing guidance on what it takes to launch a business.
“Those interested in trades or joining the workforce immediately also gain opportunities to flex their muscles in the world around them,” she added. “Our plan is to be a complete solution for schools to operate their career and technical education programs. We offer all the functions to engage students with exploration, learning modules, resume builders, and even interview practice to help students be prepared for the workforce.”
The platform is provided at no cost to districts, schools, and youth development organizations, which Robinson said is a step towards making career and educational opportunities more equitable.
EdTech is big business, especially as schools and parents alike look to what post-pandemic education should look like. Industry reports suggest the global EdTech market is currently valued at $85 billion with the expectation of that rising to upwards of $218 billion by 2027.
While the EdTech space is heating up globally, Robinson said there have been some difficulties scaling this type of startup in the Southeast.
“Honestly, it’s been rather hard. Getting to the right contacts has been challenging and having a conversation has been even harder. We think that is mostly because of COVID-19 struggles,” she added. “Career and technical education isn’t necessarily a focus when schools are having to manage contact tracing and virtual learning. That makes it hard to contact schools and districts. We have lots of interest in the product but the Southeast isn’t necessarily known for fast adoption of innovation. We hope that as we continue to grow, we can expand across the country rather quickly as more and more schools see the great benefit of our platform for their students.”