Looking to re-engage adults and high school dropouts back into the educational system and improve employees’ prospects for career advancement, an online education group has launched Smart Horizons Career Online High School.

The online program is designed to help students graduate with both a high school diploma and a career certificate in growing industries such as childcare and education, healthcare, homeland security and protection services.

That’s great news for the roughly 40 million individuals in the U.S., who are either unemployed or are in entry-level positions for lack of a high school diploma. As the recession continues, more adults are choosing to go back to school and require innovative, career-based online solutions to meet their educational needs.

President Obama addressed this issue earlier in the year calling on all Americans to commit to obtaining further high school education or post-secondary education. “We have one of the highest high school dropout rates of any industrialized nation,” Obama said. “This is a prescription for economic decline, because we know the countries that out-teach us today will out-compete us tomorrow.”

The 18-credit high school program offers academic courses in Language Arts, Science, Social Science, and Mathematics with a focus on practical, career-based instruction in each academic area. All students will be able to transfer credits previously earned at another high school, fulfilling any remaining requirements (minimum of four credits) at Smart Horizons Career Online High School.

“Our affordable, online high school program ($995 for the entire program) is a perfect fit for working or unemployed adults,” says Dr. Howard Liebman, CEO and Principal of Smart Horizons Career Online High School, “especially for those who have not had much success in school in the past. It is a win-win for the students since they graduate with both a high school diploma and a career certificate in their field of interest. The demand for nursing assistants, childcare workers and protection officers is very high and our educational program can meet these industry demands for millions of students.”

Upon admission into the online high school, students take a career planning assessment and declare a “major” of study in a specific career area. Students take four online courses in their career major and graduate with a certificate in their specific career area. For example, Smart Horizons Career Online High School has designed courses within the Childcare and Education track that meet the courseware requirements to obtain the Childcare Development (CDA) credential for its students.

“We want students to be able to graduate with a high school diploma and a specific skill and certificate, which enables them to obtain employment or advancement immediately upon graduation,” says Dr. Liebman.

In addition, Smart Horizons’ Career Online High School model represents an opportunity to expand its creative high school option to employees of companies and students enrolled in drop-out prevention programs in school districts around the United States.