By 2028, 3 million unfilled skilled trades careers will be left unfilled as 33% of this workforce retires.* Southeast Polk is working now to combat this future gap with our Work Based Learning (WBL) Program through the SEP College and Career Readiness Program. Our students have multiple opportunities to get authentic, hands-on experience while still in high school. One extremely exciting new opportunity is the completely donation-funded new Skilled Trades Extension Building. This building will give our students the space and opportunity to collaborate with our community partners, while actually doing the construction of the new building! 

Current Registered Apprenticeship and Pre-Apprenticeship Programs at SEP

Southeast Polk is proud to offer a unique opportunity to our students who are looking for a career path immediately upon high school graduation. Our Work Based Learning Program is an Earn & Learn Model, allowing students to start making some serious cash while still in high school and learning a valuable trade. It’s a Hybrid Competency-Based Training Model where our teachers work side by side with our students, monitoring their academic performance (GPA, attendance, current grades, and behavior referrals). We currently offer several different registered apprenticeship opportunities with more on the horizon!  

Registered Apprenticeships: 

  1. Diesel Tech 
  2. Auto Tech 
  3. CNC Operators
  4. Medical Secretary
  5. Veterinary Tech
  6. Welding

We also offer an Introduction to Apprenticeship Course and Construction & Technology Course that: 

  • Provide Quality Pre-Apprenticeship Learning 
  • Bridge the gap between work and school
  • Explore careers within the skilled trades
  • Give students hands-on experience
  • Strengthen our relationship with business partners

Space Needed

One of the challenges that Darell Butcher, SEP’s Career and College Readiness Coordinator, has faced in bringing in more opportunities for our students is the lack of space. Pre-apprenticeship courses require hands-on modules for students to practice which our current space does not offer. When Butcher found out that the district had purchased land for future growth that included a pole building, a light bulb went off – could we use that building for these classes? Unfortunately, we couldn’t, but it started the process of looking at other options. 

After several months and a lot of coordination, we are excited to announce that through the generous donations of many local organizations, the SEP Skilled Trades Extension Center is becoming a reality! 

SEP Community Comes Through! 

One of the most impressive things about the initial phase of this project is that everything about this building will be completed with 100% community-donated funds! Local businesses and organizations are providing labor, time, material and financial contributions. From temporary restrooms to excavation to concrete work to the walls and roof, every single donation is appreciated! Students will also get hands-on experience throughout this project with our contractors. Our Construction & Technology class will be working alongside them when it is safe and appropriate for them. Student involvement in this project from the start to completion provides a great learning experience for the students.

Current List of Donors

  • A King’s Throne
  • Master Builders of Iowa
  • Baker Group
  • Cascade Erosion Solutions
  • Local 33 Plumbers & Steamfitters
  • Elder Group
  • Elite Glass
  • FEH Design
  • Grimes Asphalt
  • Pettiecord Inc.
  • McClure
  • Meta
  • NECA
  • NW Rebar
  • PDM
  • Ryan Companies
  • US Metal Builders

While we are close to having all the funds needed for this project, there is still a gap to fill. If you are interested in becoming a contributor, please contact Darell Butcher, SEP College & Career Readiness Coordinator, @

An Interesting Fact

We’re pleased that there are several distinguished Southeast Polk Alumni who are excelling in their respective fields and actively contributing their expertise to this project. 

Skilled Trades SEP Alumni

Details and Dates


SEP Skilled Trades Extension Center

8375 NE University Ave

Pleasant Hill, Iowa 50327

The building site is on the south side of East University, to the east of the SEP Jr. High, and to the west of the SEP Transportation and new Buildings and Grounds Warehouse site. 

Skilled Trades Extension Center Google Map location

Building Details: 

  • New Pre-Engineered Metal Building for the purposes of vocational education of high school-aged students, class size ranging from 12-15 students 
  • Designed for students to help construct 
  • 3,600 SF / 25’ Tall 
  • Similar colors/materials to the new Bus Barn 
  • Large overhead door for ease of materials delivery and project transportation

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Proposed Key Milestone Dates

  • Construction Start: 10-4-23
  • Foundations & Slab: 05-3-24 
  • Structure Erection: 05-23-24
  • Building Enclosure: 08-02-24
  • Site Completion: 8-30-24
  • Interior Completion: 10-14-24
  • Owner Occupancy: 10-29-24

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We are so grateful for our SEP Community and their generosity!  This project highlights Great Connections – SEP Alum, SEP Students, SEP Community – together we’ve been building greatness for over 60 years! 




*PeopleReady Article