August Zugg is a Williston, North Dakota high school student who wanted to get hands-on experience in the electrical field. With the help of the new Work-based Learning module available across North Dakota (powered by our solution, Compass, and RUReady.ND.gov from XAP), he not only achieved that, but also found a future career path and a great company fit.
After his work-based learning (WBL) experience at Expanse Electrical in Williston, he is excited to pursue further training in the electrical field and continue working at Expanse.
His advice for other students considering seeking out WBL opportunities?
“Do it. Don’t be nervous about doing it.”
A Student’s Perspective on Work-based Learning
Through his experience in high school construction classes, August knew he was fascinated by the electrical field. His opportunities to explore the subject at school were limited, though, and online searches were coming up empty. So, he and Haley Jeannotte, Career Advisor for Williston High Schools, turned to Compass & RUReady to find an opportunity.
The Work-based Learning module made it simple to filter on electrical-related opportunities that employers are offering to students, learn about each, and apply. A month after August started his search in the system, he had signed up for Expanse Electrical’s Panel Shop Technician opportunity and began working at Expanse during a portion of the school day while earning school credit.
He says it has been instrumental in giving him a clearer picture of the field, validating his interest, and helping him choose his future training and career path. Plus, the culture and relationships he’s built at Expanse have made him excited to continue working at the company.
And the feeling is mutual for the team at Expanse.
“We would love to have him back. We would love for him to never leave. He’s been a huge asset in the short time he’s been here,” says Jeremy Durham, Panel Shop Manager at Expanse and August’s WBL supervisor.
In addition to their WBL opportunities, Expanse Electrical works with NDSCS to provide the same post-secondary training at their organization that they would receive at the school’s Wahpeton campus, at no cost to the student. This gives freedom to high school graduates to work where they choose while continuing their education in their free time.
They are proud to see students like August learn and grow at their company and are dedicated to supporting them in their career path.
An Employer’s Perspective on Work-based Learning
The team at Expanse Electrical, led by General Manager Reid Mann, has had great success offering work-based learning opportunities to high school students. Reid took the initiative to start offering WBL positions to students as a way to rethink their long-term workforce development strategies. Based on their connection with students like August, they say they have no plans to stop.
According to them, “If you (employers) are not doing work-based learning, you are missing out on a huge opportunity.”
WBL has been an effective way for the company to tackle workforce challenges and secure a sustainable talent pipeline. Some of the benefits they’ve experienced include connecting with promising future workers, building interest and skills in their field, and turning that into long-term employment.
The way they see it, WBL isn’t only a necessary part of a successful workforce development strategy – employers have a responsibility to give young people these types of opportunities to help them prepare for the future.
“It’s something that needs to be done by all companies,” says Jeremy. “It’s important to get the next generation in. Some of our best employees have come from these opportunities – they’ve been huge contributors and fast learners.”
The team at Expanse first decided to start offering WBL because they saw the benefits of getting young people exposed to their careers and start gaining experience.
Sharing their WBL opportunities on Compass gave them access to a large audience to find the students that fit their programs best.
As you can see from their experience with August, they’ve been happy with the results. Many participants have pursued related degrees at NDSCS, and some are now full-time employees, taking advantage of programs Expanse offers to help pay for post-secondary tuition. Beyond that, they’re proud to be a part of helping young people learn an in-demand trade and find their path.
Get Involved in Work-based Learning
Compass makes it easy for students to explore work-based learning options available to them.
North Dakota Students: You can access Compass’s work-based learning opportunities through RUReady.ND.gov. Sign in to RUReady.ND.gov and click “Work-Based Learning” on the home page.
Non-North Dakota Students: If your school uses Compass, you can log in here and find work-based learning opportunities under the Results tab.
If your school does not use Compass yet, reach out to us here. We’ll contact your school about getting set up.
If your company is curious about offering work-based learning, you can learn more about your options and how to get involved here. Keep in mind that there are many types of WBL requiring varying levels of time and commitment, so there is a fit for every company. Our team is available to help discuss your options and answer any questions– reach out to us at email@example.com.