GPS Education Partners: Closing the Manufacturing Employment Gap

More than three million skilled jobs are unfilled while ten times that many Americans are unemployed or underemployed. The problem is a skills gap and it’s particularly acute in advanced manufacturing.

Young people drawn to making things often struggle in high schools focused on memorizing things. The problem is a lack of technical training pathways that allow students to earn and learn in pathways to real careers.

Nonprofit GPS Education Partners is tackling both problems in 15 eastern Wisconsin education centers. The organization establishes education centers at various manufacturing facilities where students are totally immersed in a blended learning high school academic program and manufacturing apprenticeship that leads to certification and employment.

GPS Education Partners contracts with school districts to provide turnkey educational services for high school juniors and seniors; districts maintain the student’s transcript and diploma. Districts provide approximately two thirds of their annual funding for each student. Students have the opportunity to earn high school and college credits as well as industry certificates through the process.

In 2000, Generac Power Systems provided an internship and high school completion program for five students. With support from Generac and the Kern Family Foundation, and a network of over 200 partners, GPS Education Partners has grown into a nationally recognized applied learning program serving 200 students from 35 school districts.

GPS Education Partners leverages several important trends including blended and competency-based learning and a focus on employability particularly in emerging high wage job clusters including advanced manufacturing. Increasing college costs and high young adult unemployment are boosting interest in career and technical training that accelerates employability.

Rather than precluding college, GPS creates postsecondary credit opportunities and prepares young people for careers that combine ladders of earning and learning with stackable credentials and advancement opportunities.

GPS Education Partners will grow to more than 50 learning centers over the next three years. The talented team and committed board are seeking company and district partners as well as impact investors.

GPS Education Partners is an innovative education model that uniquely prepares students to succeed in technical careers and promotes viability for business.

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