Running Start for Careers is a public-private educational pathway for high school students in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that has served nearly 500 students. Unlike traditional approaches to vocational training, Running Start is not bound by campus infrastructure or trades faculty, nor is it the domain of specialty schools or limited to specific industry types. Rather, Running Start gives students direct entry into industry-developed and taught training programs in fields with demonstrated demand, while earning college credit. High school students enroll in a semester-long, dual-credit career exploration class, held at industry sites, and can then enter work-and-learn positions the following term. The program addresses high dropout rates and the skills gap by supporting those students who are the most likely to quit school and forfeit job opportunities.