School Spotlight: Park Center’s Youth Skills Training Initiative
Internship opportunities are something many students don’t think about until they are in college. A new program at Osseo Area Schools gives students at Park Center High School a jump start on their future career.
“It helps students who are taking career and technical education courses,” says Andrea Ferstan of TwinWest Chamber of Commerce. “It helps them by tying that curriculum to what employers are saying they need in terms of skills, competencies and credentials.”
The Youth Skills Training Initiative is a partnership between the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce and Osseo Area Schools. The new program will give students real-world experience through internships with Twin Cities-based companies.
“We know that we’ve got a talent shortage,” added Ferstan. “I believe the number is 62,000 by 2020. So we aren’t going to have enough bodies for the jobs that are there in 2020. The reality is we are feeling that pain right now. So, we absolutely want to be leveraging our talent, and developing that talent and encouraging them to be staying here.”
Filling the Talent Gap
Filling a talent need is a big part of this program. However, the program also shows students what it takes to join the workforce.
“They actually get to work on those soft skills,” says Tracy Hahn, a Business educator. “Communication skills, networking skills, being punctual, and meeting project deadlines. They get to practice all of those things in a real world scenario so they can put what they learn into action.”
The program also shows students what opportunities are available after graduation.
“Many of the employers in manufacturing want to change their image,” says Ferstan. “They want people to understand what the opportunities are. They want people to understand that often time people don’t need a four year degree. It can be coming straight out of high school, building skills and credentials while their working. It can be a two year degree of some sort of credential as well.”
Employers and educators are hopeful that programs like this will help diversify the workplace too.
“We know that many of our students of color, which is where we are seeing all our demographic growth in this community often don’t have those same relationships,” added Ferstan. “So, it’s really the challenge of how do we get more intentional education about supporting those relationships. Specifically how do we support those relationships with this approach to education?”
Want to learn more?
If business are interested in offering internships to students involved in The Youth Skills Training Initiative you can find out how to get involved by calling TwinWest at 763-450-2220. If parents want their students to be involved in the program you can email Ms. Ferstan at firstname.lastname@example.org .