Glide High School partners with local businesses to offer students more opportunities
Last week, students of Glide High School’s Agricultural Mechanics program started class by loading steel trailer ramps, which they had built for Fabform Industries, Inc., for transport.
The ramps are just one example of a partnership between local companies and high schools. Glide High School also partners with Con-Vey Keystone Inc.
“There is currently a shortage of skilled labor and local industries are really reaching out to schools to provide career pathways linking to their businesses,” said Glide High School instructor Benjamin Kercher. “This is a huge benefit to students as they gain career experience in school and make a personal connection with managers and owners of businesses.”
The Glide High School Agricultural Mechanics program began in the early 70s and focuses on the teach skills in the operation, repair and maintenance of farm equipment. The program has partnered with Con-Vey for around a decade, but the sawhorses were the first fabrication project. According to plant manager Travis Pritchett, this is the first time any school partnership has done any build project.
“We have done tours for other groups, and have supplied the welding program at UCC with materials, drawings for the Blueprint Reading Class,” Pritchett said. “We feel that it is our responsibility to the community and to the trades to assist programs like this. It helps to build the labor pool for the future.”
Brandon Ikola from Fabform, a local business that builds custom utility trailers, agrees.
“In our specific line of work, I feel these partnerships are helping to bridge our gap of finding qualified individuals. It gives kids who have no desire of going to college a possible opportunity to get plugged into a company at an early age and be able to progress and enhance their skills.”
Senior Zach Holland transferred into the Agricultural Mechanics class his sophomore year. He hopes to become a mechanical engineer or civil engineer in the future.
“(The partnership) is a great way for the younger students that haven’t been in the program as long to work on their skills with welding and being able to realize this isn’t good enough for the specs out in the real world, so it gives them the opportunity to work on real life things,” said Holland. “Knowing that those ramps out there will actually be on a trailer somewhere out in the US, actually being put to work, and having the responsibility of knowing that means knowing ‘I have to do it right.’”
That real world experience is one of the biggest advantages Kercher has seen with the partnerships.
“These projects must meet quality standards and have to be built correctly. I think there is a sense of accomplishment that goes along with building something that will be used for many years.”
“It helps out a lot because it helps us with experience,” said senior Zack Welker. “It takes time to learn how to weld, it’s not an easy thing to do.”
The students have just finished a custom metal cutting project for Glide Elementary school. Using a PlasmaCam table, they cut figures of children playing that will attach to a fence along the school field. They are also preparing to make a custom sign for the Glide Fire Department and have just ordered a new aluminum welder with the hopes of building a mini jet boat.
“Skills and connections are the biggest benefit for students,” said Kercher. “Most jobs are obtained because of a connection. My students have connections.”