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To help grow our state’s skilled workforce and fill talent development holes, Big Lake High School in Big Lake, Minnesota is connecting its students with early career exploration through registered apprenticeships.
The REAL (Relevant Experience Apprenticeship Learning) program helps students learn practical and theoretical aspects of highly-skilled occupations and exposes them to new career paths and experiences.
The program is made possible through the school’s partnership with Project Lead The Way (PLTW)—a nonprofit organization that helps students and teachers across the country develop skills in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science.
Because work-based learning is a collaborative effort between students, educators and local businesses, students connect hands-on learning to real-world applications through REAL’s registered apprenticeships. Students learn and develop skills employee-seekers demand while getting exposure to an attainable career that matches their passions and interests.
For high school student Gavin, Big Lake’s REAL program connected him with the metals manufacturer Arconic, where he works as an engineering assistant. When asked what this apprenticeship has taught him about the engineering field, Gavin responded that “keeping parts simple is very important for good design. It’s also important for an engineer to be a good listener and work as a team.”
Work-based learning programs provide young adults with the knowledge and confidence to pursue a chosen career path they may have previously misunderstood or known nothing about. Helping students match their academic and technical skills in a real-world setting is a step toward closing the skills gap and preparing more students for a successful future.