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Life after high school

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lifestyles Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

What will life by like after high school?

A new program, designed to fill a gap in career counseling at Brainerd High School, aims to help students answer that question.

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For the next two years, the program aims to introduce students to occupations in the central part of the state that are high paying and in high demand.

“This program is going to fill a void we had to help students become more focused on career opportunities,” said Andrea Rusk, Brainerd High School principal.

A small pilot program was tested last year. This year all sophomores, juniors and seniors, about 1,468 teenagers, will be introduced to career planning. Topics include post-secondary education, how to apply for financial aid, research of occupations, career interest and aptitude, college selection and job-seeking strategies. Students will get more information about high school courses that quality for college credit, be able to take advantage of job shadows and business tours and hear real world experience from guest speakers about life on the job.

Rush said not all students are ready for college or have plans to attend, but this program is geared to push them all to think about life after high school. Rush credited Abby Goetz, career adviser, for her work and the leadership of Craig Nathan, operations manager at Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program (CEP).

The Career Advising Project is a collaboration between Rural Minnesota CEP, the Brainerd School District, Central Lakes College, Bridges Career Academy and the Bridges Work Place Connection.

Nathan said the pilot project had students coming to the career center at the high school, but this new project brings career exploration to the classroom, connecting it to curriculum and blending in relevant career experience. The goal is to get students to think about what they are going to do in the future and then the project provides help to get them to their desired destination.

The framework will vary depending on the age of the student. Seniors have the added opportunity to take part in the National Career Readiness Certificate program. Rusk said that certificate program gives graduating students another way to show employers they have skills ready for the work force.

Funding for the career planning project — $89,720 — was provided by the Otto Bremer Foundation.

“Bremer believes in healthy communities and one way to do this is helping our youth achieve their full potential,” said Amy Wyant, Bremer Bank nonprofit resource specialist.

The Governor’s Workforce Development Council noted 40 years ago almost half of high school dropouts were in the middle class. Now that number has fallen to 33 percent.

“In order to ensure access to the American dream, students must secure a post-secondary education, whether at two- or four-year college, technical college or through a certificate program,” Nathan stated in prepared remarks about the career counseling project. “According to a study by the U.S. Census and the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, by the year 2018, 70 percent of Minnesota jobs will require an education beyond high school, yet only 40 percent of working age Minnesotans have a credential beyond a high school diploma.”

Reports on the career planning project’s results, lessons learned and success measurements are expected in January and June of 2013.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Dispatchbizbuzz.

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