Deal with Mesabi Range close for potential vocational school on North ShoreThe results from the employer survey conducted by the Two Harbors Area Chamber of Commerce for the Lake Superior school district this summer have been reviewed and school officials are ready to take the next step toward creating post-secondary education on the North Shore.
The results from the employer survey conducted by the Two Harbors Area Chamber of Commerce for the Lake Superior school district this summer have been reviewed and school officials are ready to take the next step toward creating post-secondary education on the North Shore.
Sixty area employers responded to questions about their future employment needs and what kinds of skills they are looking for in future employees. Their answer was clear: Potential employees need more than a high school education.
Superintendent Phil Minkkinen said the employers were looking for potential employees to have training and credentials. He said the big employment interests were in mining and manufacturing as well as healthcare. He said that when a student does not have either training or credentials they have to take jobs that require neither.
“All of a sudden you come to be twenty-something and want to start a family and you can’t sustain a family on eight dollars an hour. You simply can’t,” Minkkinen said.
The superintendent said that over the last four years the school district has been discussing a post-secondary program for high school graduates in Silver Bay and Two Harbors.
“Some of the things we recognized were that some of our kids who were very talented people, very bright, very capable of doing all sorts of great things don’t go beyond high school,” Minkkinen said. “They don’t go to the two-year colleges, they don’t go to the four-year colleges, they just stay here.”
The school district has been talking to Mesabi Range Community and Technical College about the creation of a post-secondary program. Minkkinen said that he hopes to have one in place for the fall semester of 2012. The program would start off by offering general education classes in English and math. The program would also offer classes in welding and the two-year millwright program. Nursing classes and classes for emergency medical technicians and paramedics are among the health care courses that would be offered.
William Kelley High School Principal Joe Nicklay said that students have expressed interest in the proposed program. “It’d be great for the kids to receive the training without traveling seventy miles to the Iron Range,” he said.
Currently, Two Harbors High School and William Kelley High School already have a partnership with Mesabi Range Community and Technical College through the Northeast Higher Education District. Faculty from the college mentor technical classes offered at the high schools.