What is a Skills Center?

A Skills Center is dedicated to offering high quality tuition free technical and professional training for high school aged students. One of the benefits of a skills center is that it is a cooperative that serves many school districts in a central location, thus reducing the cost of costly programs and providing greater access to advanced program opportunities.

Skills Centers are designed to help students get a head start on their career and college goals by providing focused education and training in specific professions. At the skills center students participate in extended time blocks, where they not only learn the theory of a subject, but also get relevant, hands-on experience as well.  Instructor to student ratios is low, allowing the Skills Center staff the time to get to know each student and address their unique learning styles.

Who Can Attend a Skills Center?

  • Students aged 16-20 enrolled in high school, private and online schools, and home-schooled students that have not yet earned their high school diploma can enroll in skills center programs
  • Students aged 16-20 that are working on or have earned their GED may be able to enroll if there is space available (check with your skills center)
  • Contact your local skills center to learn more about enrollment, eligibility, and entrance to the skills center

Types of Enrollment Options

There are three types of enrollment options for skills centers:

  • Open Enrollment: Designed to accommodate mid-semester entry | students work at their own pace and earn variable credit depending upon time of entry
  • Semester Entry Programs: New students may start first or second semester
  • Limited Enrollment Programs: There are some programs where a student MUST be enrolled for the full year, enrolling at the beginning of the year

How Does Summer School Work?

Most skills centers offer summer school programming for high school age students including incoming freshmen. Summer school classes are typically 6.5 hours per day for 14 days. Classes offered allow students to get a taste of a program area, dive deeper into the learning, and provide the chance for students that may not be able to fit a skills center class into their year-long schedule to work ahead and open space for the coming year(s).

Summer school enrollment begins in spring. Check with your local skills center to learn more about summer registration, dates/times, and expectations.

There are two types of classes offered during summer:

  • Introductory Classes: Provides an introduction into a program area | get a taste of what the pathway area provides
  • Extension Programs: Deeper learning in a program area | Advanced placement experiences for current students

Is Industry Certification Available?

Yes, most programs have a certification connected to the course. Skills center programs are designed to prepare students for professional or technical certification. Many programs include the opportunity to earn certification within the class. Earning certification makes students eligible for higher wages, qualifies them for scholarships, and allows for advanced placement articulation in post-secondary schools.

Examples of industry certifications available include:

  • A+ Certified (Comptia)
  • ASE – Automotive Service Excellence
  • AWS – American Welding Society
  • CISCO – Computer Networking
  • NAC – Nursing Assistant Certified
  • I-CAR
  • Microsoft MCP
  • Oracle Internet Academy
  • DigiPen
  • Microsoft Office User Specialist (MOUS)
  • Net+, I-Net+ (Comptia)
  • ACCESS-American Culinary Federation
  • Pro-Start – National Restaurant Association
  • State Licensing