2018-06-13 / News

Ed-Tech’s work-based programs partner with over 300 businesses

810-452-2601 • npugliese @mihomepaper.com

Steve Zott LCISD Superintendent Steve Zott LCISD Superintendent ATTICA TWP. — As another school year comes to a close, administrators at the Lapeer County Education and Technology Center are reflecting on programs offered to Lapeer County students.

Robert O’Dell, coordinator of Transition and Career Services, spoke before the Lapeer County Intermediate School Board last week to provide an update and yearly review of Ed-Tech’s various work-based learning initiatives. “Over the past few years we’ve worked with over 300 businesses right here in Lapeer County,” he said. “We’ve really had great participation with the businesses.”

Through the program, students are able to gain real-world experience at job sites with area employers, and O’Dell said the skills gained through these on-site opportunities are invaluable.

O’Dell summarized the program by breaking it into four main segments — Career and Technical (CTE) students, Business-Based Employment Skills Training (BEST) students, Vocational Independence Program (VIP) students and Summer Internship Program (SIP) students.

Of paid worksites, at which students could earn a wage from minimum wage up to $14 per hour, 50 CTE students participated. “Those are pretty much set up with the premise of long-term employment once the student graduates, so pretty much they’re walking into a job, most of which are full-time positions,” said O’Dell. “Some of them are making pretty darn good money.” One hundred and eighty-eight students participated in unpaid worksites, totaling 238 total placements for CTE students. CTE students spent a total 9,396.5 hours working onsite with a participating business. Along with work hours, 335 CTE students participated in tour experiences at various worksites. “These unpaid worksites are really for career exploration for the student and a look at the career expectations that are there to make sure that it’s really the career that they want to be in,” said O’Dell. “Some of the students after doing worksite decide they don’t really want to go into that field, which is fine.”

Of BEST students, comprised of students with special needs, 101 participated in worksite experience while 12 participated in individual work experiences. Students rotate each trimester through the program. “The whole idea of our BEST program is to get those special needs students up to a level of independence where they can reach competitive employment levels,” said O’Dell. “It’s amazing the growth that takes place in that.”

O’Dell also touched on the VIP program, which features 11 students from Almont, four from Dryden and seven from North Branch. “We kind of took our BEST program and started that in three of our school districts,” he said. O’Dell said that of the 11 students from Almont that participated in the program, five are now employed. While Almont has been participating in the VIP program for three years, North Branch and Dryden are new this school year, and O’Dell said the hope is their numbers will increase as years go by. “This is all working toward competitive employment, where we can get those students up, and just building those work ethics is huge,” he said. “For the first time these students are finding they can be successful at work.”

Lastly, a total of 32 students from five school districts are signed on to participate in the Summer Internship Program. “We try to get these students out there, and for most of them it’s their first job experience,” said O’Dell. “We try to look for employers that are looking to fill positions, and put our students in.” O’Dell said the students participating in the SIP program will be heading out to job sites shortly, with one student set to begin this week.

“This past year the work-based learning program has been an integral part of all of our work here at (Ed-Tech), it’s important for our students,” said LCISD Superintendent Steve Zott. “Students get a feel for an actual worksite in their chosen career, whether it’s job shadowing or short or long-term paid or unpaid work positions.”

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