OLATHE, Kan. — A new partnership between Olathe Public Schools and Garmin is allowing students more options about life after high school.
The technology-based company will be partnering with the district to give students hands-on work experience.
"This is a really big deal for the district, we are very excited about this," Assistant Superintendent of Support Services Jessica Dain said. "About 20 months ago, Garmin reached out to us due to some factors that were contributing to not having a pipeline for jobs that they needed to have filled."
Because of the aging population and retirement, by the year 2021, 50 percent of the electronic technician positions will be vacant at Garmin.
"So the idea is to build a pipeline from high school to career and that includes college credit or it can include going right into the workforce and so with that, we were very excited to get into this partnership with them," Dain said.
Lab equipment will be provided to the students by the company. Dain said this is a win-win partnership.
"Many, many industries are finding they don't have people to fill the tens of thousands of jobs that they have, and so really having this pipeline where we're working together I think is mission critical for all of us," Dain said. "Our students, by the time they graduate from high school, will have their first year of college completed, paying $0. They will be so close to having an associate's degree in a short amount of time."
The district has a goal for students either graduate with work credential or college credit.
"We hear a lot about college and career and I think in the last 20 years, I've really seen a focus on the college piece and yet we know there is a completely different path students can take," Dain said.
The district is already planning for more programs that focus on career readiness.
"It will be the aviation maintenance pathway, looking at students flying drones, graduating from high school with their pilot's license and then going into aviation," Dain said. "So this has opened a brand new door not only for us as a school district, but for our students."
The Garmin program begins next fall and is already filled to capacity with 24 students.