4 Reasons Why The Skilled Trades Belong In Your Summer Programs

Gen Z student of Interplay Learning smiling at camera

As the education landscape continues to evolve, many schools are finding new, creative ways to engage their students and ensure they are prepared for rewarding careers.

One way educators can do this is by integrating skilled trades education into summer programs. Not only are the trades a great career path for students (in fact, the median pay for new construction hires rose 5.1% to $48,089 last year), but training for the trades has benefits regardless of a student’s chosen career path. According to the National Research Center for CTE, students who participate in CTE courses develop skills like problem-solving, project completion, critical thinking, and more.

Clearly, engaging with the skilled trades can benefit all of your students. Summer is the perfect time to allow students to dive into immersive skilled trade learning experiences. Who knows? Maybe this summer your students will discover a new passion!

Combatting Summer Learning Loss

It’s no secret that summer learning loss is a concern for many students, but fortunately, effective summer programming can help! EdResearch has several recommendations for effective summer programming, such as:

  • Include engaging, active enrichment activities
  • Provide your instructors with a curriculum so they can focus on teaching and building relationships
  • Source instructors with experience in enrichment activities

Immersive education in the skilled trades can fit right into your summer curriculum and hit on these above items. Since the trades are inherently hands-on, they are perfect enrichment activities for your summer students. They are engaging and encourage the development of problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. Better yet, it’s easier than you think to create a safe, hands-on virtual lab without adding new staff or additional resources.

With tools like Interplay Learning, experienced instructors are already built into the platform and you have access to pre-set learning paths that can function as your base curriculum.

If one of the goals of your summer programs is to combat summer learning loss, incorporating effective technologies can help your students be more engaged and retain more of what they learn. Virtual reality and simulations are a great way to encourage your students to stay intellectually active while learning and doing something new.

DJ Mumau, an experienced teacher who uses Interplay Learning, explains that he loves Interplay because, “The simulations that Interplay offers prepare students for real-world situations where they actually have to use higher levels of thinking to figure out what’s wrong with something. And that’s what we are trying to build here. Give them the skills that when they walk out this door they can go problem solve.”

These hands-on activities not only reinforce academic skills and keep students intellectually stimulated over the summer, but they also instill practical knowledge that is essential for success in the workforce regardless of their ultimate career path.

Harnessing Technology for Flexibility

In today’s digital age, technology plays a crucial role in education. Research shows that post pandemic, 75% of students wanted to continue virtual education. Summer is the perfect time to create more hybrid or remote learning experiences. It gives students the freedom to balance their learning with a summer job or other activities. However, remote or hybrid learning shouldn’t force you to compromise the quality of the education you provide.

With online and immersive virtual reality simulations, schools can provide students with flexible summer program options that transcend traditional classroom boundaries. Whether students are accessing resources from home, a library, or a community center, they can engage in interactive learning experiences tailored to their individual interests and career aspirations.

It also allows students to experience things that would be difficult or unsafe to do otherwise. One Interplay Learning user says that is part of what he loves about the platform, “I like the actual interacting part. You get to go in and look at a furnace and it’s what you would look at in real life. You don’t have to get up and go anywhere, you can do it from your computer.” This flexibility ensures that learning opportunities are accessible to all of your students regardless of their summer schedule or learning style.

Fostering Career Readiness 

The integration of trades education into summer programs not only equips students with technical skills but also fosters career readiness. According to a study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, nearly 30% of jobs in the United States require some form of postsecondary education or training beyond high school, with many of these positions falling within the skilled trades sector.

The demand for the trades is only growing, and history has proven that these career paths lead to good, stable jobs. In fact, a recent survey of skilled workers showed that 94% of them would encourage their own kids or family members to pursue similar occupations.

Not only are they good jobs, but students with effective training are in high demand. Tim Smith, an HVAC expert and assistant professor at Hudson Valley Community College, notes that Interplay’s immersive, virtual reality software helped more students be career-ready. He says, “The result was more work-ready students, higher salaries, and a 100% job placement rate that we are very proud of. Some of our students had three or four job offers when they graduated – a testament to their engagement and competencies, with the online simulations playing an important role.”

Summer programs are a great time to encourage students to explore and begin to train for a career in the trades. What starts as a summer course could help a student discover and prepare for a career that provides them with both a good salary and high job satisfaction. By exposing students to hands-on, immersive technology, schools can ignite their passion for these careers and provide them with the necessary tools to pursue lucrative and fulfilling employment opportunities.

Engaging Students with Immersive Technology

Perhaps the most significant benefit of incorporating the skilled trades into your summer programs is the ability to engage students with immersive technology that they genuinely enjoy using. Gen Z learners have an average attention span of around eight seconds, noticeably lower than prior generations.

Unsurprisingly, that means it is harder to capture the attention of today’s tech-savvy generation. However, virtual reality simulations offer an interactive and engaging learning experience that appeals to students’ interests and learning styles.

Heather Hensell, an educational leader, sees the value in this kind of technology for her own students. “Gamification is very popular, it appeals to students, and they enjoy that type of learning,” she says. “Without interactive experiences, it’s very easy for students to become distracted and stop paying attention. There are more creative ways to teach these days, and the kind of immersive experiences that Interplay provides is very helpful for students when interacting with the content and recalling information.” John Martinaeu, a student who uses Interplay Learning agrees, “Just the way it is set up is really cool. It’s actually fun to use.”

By leveraging this cutting-edge technology, schools can create dynamic summer programs that not only educate but also inspire and empower students to pursue their passions.

How Can Interplay Learning Help

Incorporating the skilled trades into your summer programs can provide value for your students in many different ways. Interplay Learning can help by providing fully developed online learning paths with videos, immersive simulations, and knowledge checks that can integrate into your existing curriculum and LMS.

That means you have all of the above benefits without having to hire several new instructors or requiring your current staff to start a new curriculum from scratch. Our industry experts create accurate, engaging content, so you can focus more on mentorship, accountability, and the irreplaceable relationships with your learners.

By embracing these innovative approaches, schools can ensure that their summer programs serve as dynamic platforms for empowering students and equipping them with the skills they need to create better careers and better lives for themselves.

Having the right tools like Interplay Learning in place also means that your students can continue training and pursuing their newfound passion into the school year in the same format they are already using!

Interested in seeing how Interplay Learning’s technology can help you create a powerful summer program? Learn more here.

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