What career would you like to pursue? It’s a question every high-schooler hears as they near the end of their general education.

But this question isn’t easily answered, as a student’s knowledge of different career paths largely comes from classroom instruction versus actual time in the field.

The Minnesota Center for Advanced Professional Studies, Prior Lake High School’s profession-based immersion program, allows students to gain high school and college credit while applying their coursework in real-world settings.

PLHS currently offers seven MNCAPS pathways including design and marketing, foundation of business, marketing analytics, professional selling, education, global sustainability, medicine and healthcare, and in the fall they will add an eighth to the list — a trades pathway.

The trades pathway will be a three-hour long experience with an emphasis on building and construction, explained MNCAPS Coordinator Erik Sill.

Participating students will earn English, math and technical education credits which can also transfer into college credit through MNCAPS concurrent enrollment agreement with Dakota County Technical College. The pathway allows them to seamlessly transition into the college’s construction management program, he said.

“The culminating project, we’re aiming to build a tiny home. (That’s) our goal this year and we would build that on-site and so we’re excited to take on that endeavor,” Sill said.

The pathway will provide students with hands-on learning in the field and better prepare them for a profession in the trades.

“When we create pathways they stem from industry, so when there’s demand in the workforce, they stem from student interest as well and then conversations with parents and even industry leaders,” Sill said. “There is just so much demand for individuals in this area of our economy.”

Students will also make site visits and work one-on-one with local industry professionals. Industry leaders will serve as guest instructors and mentor students as they construct a tiny home, he said.

Sill is working on further development of the pathway by seeking out these industry professionals and brainstorming ways to acquire the building resources needed.

“The number one priority for us is recruiting students to sign up for this particular pathway, so it’s making students aware of this experience that they can have,” Sill said. “It’s really a chance for students to engage with adults from the industry, really get their hands dirty and make some well-informed decisions on what’s next for them.”

There are currently 240 students enrolled in MNCAPS and Sill aims to recruit 25 to 30 more students for the trades pathway, he said.

Registration for the pathway opened to juniors and seniors this month. With recent updates to PLHS trades and tech ed spaces, the school will be able to host the pathway unlike the other pathways which take place at a facility in Lakeville.

Industry professionals who may be interested in partnering with MNCAPS should contact Sill at esill@priorlake-savage.k12.mn.us

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