Real life technical training for high school students is helping them to learn essential skills for 21st century workforce industries.
This week, seven high school boys under the lead of instructor Dawn Brown disassembled and reassembled aircraft brakes in the aircraft hangar at the National Center for Aviation Training. Behind them stood real Cessna aircraft.
They are the first class of high school students to take the school’s General Aviation Maintenance class as part of a state program created in 2012 by Senate Bill 155.
Gov. Sam Brownback created the program, saying that it would build a better-trained, better-paid workforce by luring high school juniors and seniors into college-level technical training in the most in-demand professions.
It’s now been a year and a half, and local and state officials say they like what they see so far.
By the end of the first year, more than 6,000 high school students statewide took classes at community and technical colleges. The state expects to end this school year with enrollment up 50 percent.
Wichita Area Technical College reported that it ended last school year with 275 high school students in the program. That rose to 569 students in the fall and 793 when the semester started in January.
Because the state is funding the program, it attracts a lot of students, who are getting training that ultimately will help everyone involved, said Joe Ontjes, vice president of marketing and student services at WATC.
“It works for industry, it works for the public, and it works for students, who have better prospects and higher wages,” Ontjes said.
The state pays tuition for all high school students taking classes in the career and technical education program, said Blake Flanders, vice president of workforce development for the Kansas Board of Regents.
Those classes are held at the high school, a community college or a technical college. If students have to travel to the college, the state pays for that, too.
The students attend part time, from an hour to three hours a day, and they typically will earn 12 to 14 hours of college credit over two years of high school.
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