School presented SEAL honors

Regional Director Matthew Presley of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development Work-Based Learning, right, presents a certificate to Chad Sutton, director of Garrett High School’s career development program, in recognition of the school’s State Earn and Learn Program. With them at Friday’s presentation, from left, are Garrett-Keyser-Butler school district Superintendent Tonya Weaver; Chris Price, president of the Indiana Construction Roundtable Foundation; and Carrie Lively, senior director of IDW Work-Based Learning.

INDIANAPOLIS — Garrett High School is the latest addition to a growing list of entities to earn a State Earn and Learn certification from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, the state agency said.

During a ceremony Friday, Garrett school administrators accepted the certification from DWD officials in the Office of Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship.

DWD is helping to “skill-up” the state’s workforce by offering SEAL certificates to employers and high schools. Garrett’s SEAL certification is for the high school’s construction trades program.

“This SEAL adds more credibility to what we are trying to accomplish,” said Chad Sutton, Garrett High School’s director of career development. “It tells our industry partners that we are serious about skill development for our students. We all realize the opportunities in industry regarding the lack of skilled labor. When a student can achieve hands-on skill development in an area they are interested in and integrate academics into that vocational experience, you have just helped that student create passion.”

SEALs are structured, scalable programs ranging from eight weeks to two years in length and include industry certifications tailored for any sector. They are designed to meet the skills employers demand, are geared toward both adult and youth populations, and satisfy Indiana’s new graduation pathway requirements.

In earning a SEAL for its construction trades program, Garrett follows Hamilton Heights High School in northern Hamilton County, which in June became certified to offer the first SEAL program in Indiana designed for the construction industry.

The SEAL certifications give students at Garrett and Hamilton Heights the opportunity to earn industry-valued credentials while participating in paid, on-the-job training.

Garrett’s construction trades program has been in existence for more than 40 years, but recently expanded to include career development. Sutton has helped to take the program to the next level by offering National Center for Construction Education and Research credentials and college credit through a partnership with Ivy Tech Community College in Fort Wayne.

Students enrolled in the program can graduate high school with 22 transferable credits through Ivy Tech, seven nationally recognized industry credentials, more than 1,200 hours of on-the-job-training and meaningful connections to industry professionals in the region.

Sutton’s background in the construction industry has helped to facilitate partnerships with more than 40 local businesses that interact with students in job shadowing, mentoring, internship and employment opportunities.

“Chad has worked closely with employer partners to establish outstanding relationships that are mutually beneficial,” said Matt Presley, an OWBLA regional director. “Students are getting hands-on, real-world experience, and employers are realizing both a short- and long-term return on their investment as they work to meet their workforce demands and sustain growth.”

One of the unique aspects of Garrett’s Construction Trades program is that it starts in elementary school at fifth grade and continues through 12th grade. Now with the SEAL certification, the program is expected to draw 35-40 students in each class over the next few years.

The SEAL certification is among a variety of tools that the Office of Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship has in its toolbox to help “skill-up” the state’s workforce.

The Department of Workforce Development projects Indiana employers will need to fill 1 million additional jobs in the next 10 years, half of which will not require a four-year college degree, but will require some type of certification or credential beyond a high school diploma.

The Office of Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship program is part of Gov. eric Holcomb’s NextLevel Jobs initiative

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