WEDC, SCEDC and INSPIRE Sheboygan County partner to bring co-ops to all county schools as part of talent retention effort

Sheboygan, WI – August 11, 2017 – Sheboygan County high school co-ops will receive a shot in the arm.  The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is providing a partnership between the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corporation (SCEDC) and INSPIRE Sheboygan County $45,000 to scale high school co-ops as well as to create best-practice guides for state-wide distribution.

“Many area companies are looking to groom new talent and invest heavily in local school districts,” stated Dane Checolinski, SCEDC Director. “Expanding the hands-on side of education is the next logical step to ensuring kids in Sheboygan County Schools reach their full potential.”

The co-op grant was applied for and received by the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corporation (SCEDC) who will be contracting with INSPIRE Sheboygan County to support the new co-op coordinator position.  Nikki Kiss, Executive Director of INSPIRE Sheboygan County stated, “This grant opportunity allows us to accelerate our plans and continue to connect students and employers. As students begin to develop their career path it is critical they learn about their industries of interest while they are in high school. This will help them make better post-high school plans.”

“We congratulate these two partners for developing an innovative way to enhance and expand this valuable work-based learning program,” said Tricia Braun, deputy secretary of WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization. “This initiative will not only help improve co-op programs throughout Sheboygan County, it will provide a model that can be taken to other counties and regions throughout the state as well.”

Co-op positions are paid, with the bulk of employers paying around $10 per hour. This program allows students to work at firms for 75-90 hours per academic quarter.  Companies provide students with a work experience that showcase the different career options available helping that student to determine what career best fits their interest.  All co-op positions must be applied for and earned like any job. High school students are considered “student learners” and exempted from many laws that prohibit them from operating equipment and machinery.  Currently, Co-ops are currently offered in manufacturing and automotive areas; although, the plan will be to expand them to other industries and departments.