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Worker Shortage? Teach Teens Manufacturing Skills

Worker Shortage? Teach Teens Manufacturing Skills
Photograph by Dean Berry/Getty Images

During her sophomore year at Kettle Moraine High School in Wales, Wis., about 30 miles outside Milwaukee, Tara Britten ditched class and was in danger of expulsion. “They thought I was stupid,” Britten says. “Nobody would challenge me at the level I needed to be challenged at, so it made me angry and bored.”

Her attitude changed last fall when the 16-year-old junior started participating in a nonprofit program called Second Chance Partners that teaches high schoolers skills they can use for manufacturing jobs. Britten, who was not expecting to graduate, is now earning $8 an hour working for a local manufacturer and completing her high school curriculum. She’s also learning such skills as welding and reading blueprints and is confident she can get a shipyard welding job that pays $15 an hour and offers benefits when she graduates next year.