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.

Source: Big Lake High School

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 Spencer, his experience working as an automotive technician at Fleet Farm Auto Center confirmed his interest in pursuing a transportation-related career. When asked what the one important thing he has learned about the transportation field, he enthusiastically responded, “That you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on an education to be ‘successful!'”

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.

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