Providing Students with Hands-on, Work-Based Experiences

by Christina Studebaker, DCEDC Workforce Development Project Manager

Securing and retaining a qualified workforce is critical to Door County’s success and economic sustainability. One source for both the near-term and long-term labor force is local students. Door County Economic Development Corporation (DCEDC) works throughout the year to connect local businesses and students so that students can learn about the wide array of interesting, exciting and well-paying careers available in the county.

DCEDC’s efforts have included organizing the annual eighth-grade career fair; securing local workers and business owners as classroom guest speakers; organizing company tours for students; arranging industry-focused field trips for students; helping to facilitate job-shadow opportunities for students; participating in school-organized mock job interviews; administering the INSPIRE Door County online platform, which helps students explore careers and connects them to career coaches; and overseeing the high school home-construction project.

Additional work-based learning experiences that DCEDC is focused on include youth apprenticeships and work co-operative (“co-op”) education programs that combine substantial, on-the-job work experience with classroom instruction and school supervision.

The programs are designed for junior and senior high school students who have a desire to gain significant, hands-on experience in a particular industry while they’re still in high school. Industries currently represented in Wisconsin’s youth apprenticeship and co-op programs include construction, manufacturing, engineering, health sciences, human services, hospitality and tourism, and transportation/distribution/logistics.

In either program, students attend school part of the day and work part of the day to gain employability and occupation skills at industry-defined levels. They take industry-focused courses that count toward credit needed for high school graduation. And, students work with skilled mentors, learn about multiple aspects of an industry and get paid while gaining on-the-job experience.

If you are a student or employer interested in youth apprenticeship or co-op education, contact Christina Studebaker at [email protected] or 920-743-3113, ext 205.

Related Organizations