01/16/12 — Business support needed for career fair

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Business support needed for career fair

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 16, 2012 1:46 PM

The third annual seventh-grade career fair is just weeks away and the biggest concern is that all the tables be filled by local employers interested in recruiting the next generation of workers.

"We want both days to be equally rich and full for the students, with many career fields represented," said Lori Dubose, organizer of the event, sponsored by Wayne Education Network and the Chamber of Commerce.

The two-day career fair will be held Feb. 14 and 15 at the YMCA. Hours for that Tuesday will be 8:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. and on Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. until noon.

Public, private and home-schooled students have been invited to attend, with an estimated 1,200 students expected.

Ideally, area businesses attend both days of the fair, or certainly a big portion of the time.

"We'd like to get a commitment from businesses and any of (the times) that are not filled in, we are going to work hard to get those time spots filled so that every child has the same experience," Ms. Dubose said.

Teachers and guidance counselors at schools have already begun preparing students for the experience, she added, from considering areas of interest to formulating thoughtful questions to ask the employers.

The idea behind holding a middle school career fair came from a lot of study, she said.

"Statistics are showing that a lot of times, eighth grade is a pivotal point as to whether children continue their education or it stops," Ms. Dubose said. "(They need to know) that a job is expected of every citizen in Wayne County, about contributing in some fashion ...

"The big push is that we want to spark interest about the individual aspects -- I'm going to have a job, I'm going to be working when I finish high school -- and we want to plant that seed, that everybody needs something in mind that they're going to have to work toward."

Seventy-six professions were represented last year. This year, the focus will be on occupations that require further education beyond high school, as well as trade schools or areas where companies train their employees to do certain jobs or provide on-the-job training.

When students enter the gymnasium at the Y, they will be introduced to four career clusters -- human services, education and training, public safety, and government and public administration.

"They're going to spend 20 minutes within each career cluster," Ms. Dubose explained. "We want the children to have the opportunity to flow freely with that career cluster, ask questions.

"We're asking that the businesses bring something or display something or wear something (related to the career), wonderful brochures, lots of copies to take with them about their business."

Another big push for that age group, she added, comes down to dollars and cents.

"Children are interested in how much money they're going to make," she said. "They don't always understand what that equates to with your quality of living or comfort level.

"We would like for businesses to give an idea of a pay scale, a salary range of what they could make in the profession."

Businesses that previously participated have been invited to attend this year's event, but anyone who did not receive notification, or those interested in being a part of it, are encouraged to call the chamber or visit the website to register, at waynecountychamber.com.

"I would love to see an influx of applications come in by the middle of February," Ms. Dubose said. "What fields we don't hear from, we'll try to recruit."

Even if a business or industry can only commit to a few hours, that would still afford them a chance to be represented.

Every little bit helps, she said.

"The feedback from the children last year, you realize what a great day it was for them," she said. "It made them very happy and they were excited.

"Having read (their feedback), and I shared those with the board of education, you do realize that a small window of time like that can just make such a huge impression."