Inspiring Students

Middle and High School Career Planning

Did you know that Wisconsin public schools are required to provide Academic and Career Planning (ACP) for students?

ACP is a student-driven process where students create their own vision for future success through career and self-exploration and the development of career management and planning skills. Teachers, counselors, parents and others provide mentoring throughout the process to build a plan based on students’ interests, abilities, goals, and values.

This entire process is meant to help students make informed choices to select courses and experiences throughout their middle and high school educations related to future education, training, and careers.

Industry involvement is a key component to exposing students to the vast array of career opportunities. There are opportunities to participate in class presentations, mentoring, job placement and online interaction to help students learn about careers in food service. Fill out this survey if you are interested in being updated on school opportunities in your area.

In an initiative aimed at addressing Wisconsin’s workforce development needs, all nine of the state’s regional economic development organizations are teaming up to develop a statewide platform that directly connects local employers to students.

The regional organizations, with support from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI), will expand the use of a web-based platform called Inspire that virtually connects area businesses to their future talent pool through online profiles, virtual career coaches, and career-based learning activities for high school students and educators.

Three programs currently in Wisconsin that work with employers:

Due to the recent approval of funding, there will more programs coming in the future.

ProStart Mentor

Plant the seeds for the future


ProStart® is a nationwide program for high school students that develops the best and brightest talent into tomorrow’s restaurant and foodservice industry leaders. From culinary techniques to management skills, ProStart’s industry-driven curriculum provides real-world educational opportunities and builds practical skills and a foundation that will last a lifetime.

With national and local support from industry members, educators, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, and the Wisconsin Restaurant Association Education Foundation, ProStart reaches 6,300 students in over 100 schools in Wisconsin.

Success of ProStart programs relies on meaningful industry connections with students, teachers, and classrooms.

There are countless opportunities for restaurant industry professionals to make a difference as ProStart mentors.



Youth Certification

ProStart Certificate of Achievement

The Certificate of Achievement (COA) is the highest honor a ProStart student can achieve. For a COA, a student must work at least 400 hours in the industry, complete at least 52 of 75 workplace competencies on the Student Work Experience Checklist, and pass both the year 1 and year 2 National ProStart exams.

The COA shows potential employers and colleges that a student has the drive to be part of the industry and is willing to put in the extra effort to achieve his or her goals. It also means that a student is entering the college and/or the industry ahead of the competition, with a whole range of necessary job skills already learned in a professional setting.

Learn More


Youth Apprenticeships

Wisconsin Youth Apprenticeship is a statewide school-to-work initiative that combines related instruction with on-the-job training. In this one- to two-year program, students work at least 450 paid hours in one of 10 career clusters, including hospitality, lodging and tourism.

Interested employers should contact the Department of Workforce Development for more information.

Contact Workforce Development