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In the heart of Minneapolis, a silent revolution is underway in the realm of workforce development. As the retirement wave looms over the manufacturing sector, experienced professionals like Al Niemi (pictured below), Advanced Trainer at Mid-Continent Engineering, are taking proactive steps to ensure that the wealth of knowledge they possess doesn’t vanish with their departure.

“By the time I retire, I want half of my department to be interns we’ve trained,” Niemi boldly proclaims, embodying a commitment to mentorship and talent cultivation that is increasingly rare in today’s rapidly evolving job market.

The urgency of this mission is underscored by the imminent departure of seasoned workers, leaving behind a critical knowledge gap that threatens the continuity of operations and the sustainability of businesses. To address this challenge, Niemi and other forward-thinking leaders are turning to innovative solutions that prioritize not only technical proficiency but also trainability and mentorship.

One such solution is the high school internship program offered by the Hennepin West Education Consortium in collaboration with GPS Education Partners (GPS Ed). This program, designed with intentionality and foresight, goes beyond the traditional transactional experience by incorporating student readiness activities and comprehensive mentor training for business partners.

At Mid-Continent Engineering, now in their second year of offering internships in manufacturing positions such as welding and machining, the results speak volumes. Two former interns have already transitioned into full-time staff, a testament to the efficacy of mentorship-driven work-based learning initiatives.

Among the promising talents emerging from this program is Arnez (pictured above), a senior at St. Louis Park High School, whose exceptional performance has positioned him as a frontrunner for a full-time role at Mid-Continent Engineering.

The success of initiatives like these hinges on the strategic partnership between educational institutions, businesses, and intermediary organizations like GPS Education Partners. By leveraging the expertise of seasoned professionals like Niemi and providing structured mentorship opportunities, these programs not only equip students with valuable skills but also foster a culture of continuous learning and knowledge sharing within the workforce.

As we navigate the evolving landscape of workforce development, the importance of mentorship and work-based learning cannot be overstated. At GPS Education Partners, we are proud to collaborate with visionary companies like Mid-Continent Engineering to build pathways that empower the next generation of talent and ensure the vitality of our industries.

To learn more about how GPS Ed can help your organization harness the power of work-based learning and mentorship, visit gpsed.org/cs. Together, let’s cultivate a brighter future for our communities and industries.

Written By

Amanda Daniels an employee of GPS Education Partners

Amanda Daniels
Director of WBL Design and Solutions
GPS Education Partners

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