An often overlooked resource for getting ready for the world of work is high school Skills Centers. Skills Centers prepare high school juniors and seniors for vocational careers in a wide variety of fields, with hands-on training that’s great for students who thrive in a non-traditional learning environment. They’re an extension of the student’s day (about two and a half hours) and are offered to any local area high school student within a Skills Center’s region.
As part of the general education curriculum, they’re a great way for students with disabilities to tap into interests and abilities that lead to employment. Although Skill Centers are staffed by the host school district, it’s up to the home high school to provide the necessary supports and accommodations (included in the IEP).
Skills Centers Training and the IEP
If your son or daughter is about to become a junior or senior, contact your regional Skills Center and ask to schedule a visit. If you feel your son or daughter would benefit from attending, invite a representative from the Skills Center to be part of the IEP team. The IEP team considers:
- Is this program a good fit for the student?
- Will the student be successful?
- Will they find a career as part of participating?
- What kinds of supports are needed?
As long as s/he remains enrolled in high school, the student can continue to participate in the Skills Center until age 21.
Benefits of Skills Centers
Hands on Learning. Skills Centers engage students with hands on (applied) learning in a variety of occupational skills that relate directly to the job market. They provide active and engaging learning environments for students who thrive with a hands-on approach to learning.
Job Preparation. Skills Centers prepare students for careers in culinary arts, office, construction trades, automotive, manufacturing, engineering, early childhood education, veterinary tech and much more. Disciplines vary from center to center, so be sure to find out what your Skills Center offers.
Industry Teachers. Instructors have a minimum of six years working in the field they teach. Many have had 10, 20 and even 30 years experience working in industry. They not only bring their knowledge, but passion and love for what they do.
Locating Skills Centers
There are currently 18 regional Skills Centers across the state serving local area school districts. To see a list of skills center locations visit the Washington Skills Centers website. (visit website)