ST. CLOUD -- By some estimates, there could be as many as 31 million open trade jobs in the United States by 2020.


Looking at that possibility, a big question becomes, what are our local high schools doing to try and fill that gap?

Lori Posch is the Executive Director of Teaching and Learning for District 742. She says in our area's largest district, they start the career conversation early.

"We have our preschool students even talking about job opportunities, asking questions about what different jobs do."

Blake, a student at Apollo Senior High says the district's early emphasis has given him some great opportunities much later in his school career.

"Experience the fields and go meet different people in the industry and try out different hands-on experiences that you wouldn't normally get to."

All three districts have strong partnerships with St. Cloud State University and St. Cloud Technical and Community College. Part of those partnerships involve former students coming back to share their experiences with current students.

Sartell Tech Ed Teacher Nick Phillips says the former students give great advice and insight to the current ones.

"We've also got student's coming back and giving information - that's better information than I can give - that are maybe one or two year college bound. And some that are going straight into the trades."

Erich Martens is the Principal of Sauk Rapids - Rice High School. He says in their district they focus on painting as clear of a picture as possible.

"Really wanting to make sure that there is a seamless transition and that there is a very understandable continuum of courses that is going to help our students be prepared [for whatever field they go in]."

Sauk Rapids-Rice also brings in industry experts to instruct and teach their students, ensuring they're as ready as possible before leaving school.

All three districts work closely with industry partners, to ensure they have the most up to date equipment for students to work with. Projects can then mirror the ones in their chosen field as closely as possible.

School districts in our area are doing a lot to ensure students have the best opportunities possible to be successful.

This story is part of the "Tour of Manufacturing."

The annual "Tour of Manufacturing" is on September 30th  and October 7th. It's your chance to tour several area manufacturers, and see the opportunities they present. There's also a chance for scholarships from St. Cloud Technical and Community College and St. Cloud State University.

Photo: Richard Leguil, WJON
Photo: Richard Leguil, WJON

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