For organizations like GPS Education Partners (GPS Ed), community-wide engagement from local businesses, community members, and donors is pivotal to the success of our mission to support high school students through alternative education pathways. Advocacy for GPS Ed spans across the community, whether it’s local businesses collaborating to provide work-based learning experiences, schools incorporating GPS Ed’s innovative programs in their districts, or donors contributing to the expansion of this mission. This collective effort ensures that the same communities, donors, business partners, school districts, and students involved witness a heightened level of support and an influx of economic opportunities.
While traditional educational approaches may work for many, there will always be students who find themselves uninspired by the conventional curriculum. This is where GPS Ed steps in to transform the educational landscape for them. By offering an alternative education pathway focused on technical careers through partnerships with local businesses and schools, we breathe fresh inspiration and opportunity into the lives of these students.
Let’s hear the inspiring journey of Adam Skok, a 2022 GPS Ed graduate from our Allis Roller-Franklin Education Center. As he awaited his two-hour layover returning to Wisconsin from tech training in Florida, Adam shared his transformative experience with GPS Ed’s work-based learning program. In October 2019, as a high school senior, he embarked on a journey with Krones Inc., specializing in Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Machining. “I always aspired to follow in my dad’s footsteps, who was a CNC Machinist. GPS Ed paved an early path for me to achieve that dream,” reminisced Adam. Although he later transitioned to a different role within the company, GPS Ed provided him with the initial opportunity to embark on this fulfilling career path. By transferring to the service industry, he now travels to different companies to repair their machines. When asked if GPS Ed had altered his perception of the technical career field, Adam responded with a resounding “Absolutely.” GPS Ed opened his eyes to the multitude of career paths within the technical field, dispelling the misconception that college is the sole route to a rewarding career. This new avenue also enabled Adam to explore new parts of the country, a prospect he hadn’t deemed possible before joining GPS Ed’s Education Center and Youth Apprenticeship program.
The technical career field is teeming with potential, but it’s shrouded in a stigma that discourages young people from considering it as a viable and successful option. “I believe not enough young individuals are exploring the technical field as a career. It appears that every week, skilled workers retire, and there are not enough replacements in sight,” Adam observed. There is a significant lack of awareness about the immense potential of the technical field. While hands-on work may occasionally get dirty, it’s a testament to hard work, and reputable companies actively seek individuals who are willing to put in the effort. “During high school, I struggled to identify a clear path for my post-school future, but by discovering GPS Ed, I found a path to reputable companies that would equip me with valuable skills. These are not dead-end jobs; these are careers that can pave the way for a highly successful life.”
GPS Ed plays a pivotal role in cultivating growth for businesses and communities by introducing a new generation of educated and motivated workers to an industry that might not have accessible entry points for today’s youth. “These young individuals are the future of the industry. GPS Ed is nurturing the future of manufacturing across various regions. They are equipping the future workforce with the tools for success. It’s a chance we shouldn’t let slip by,” emphasized Adam, highlighting the importance of community-wide financial and program implementation support. “Extend a helping hand to these young individuals. You’ll be astonished by their accomplishments when given opportunities to showcase their capabilities.”
Through heightened local advocacy, GPS Ed is poised to expand its reach and inspire countless more students searching for a new path tailored to their skills or an early entryway into the technical field. As an alumnus of the GPS Ed program, Adam offered valuable advice to the next generation of students. “I encourage them to delve deeper into these technical companies. Conduct research, ask questions, and take that leap of faith. The best and worst outcome is that you gain clarity on your preferences and direction for the future.”
As we concluded our conversation about his educational and career journey thus far, it was evident that Adam had come a long way over the past three years. “Lastly, I consistently share one message with others—I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for GPS Ed providing me with the opportunity to enter a remarkable company and profession,” he affirmed. The surge of confidence instilled in GPS Ed students and alumni greatly benefits their workplaces.