02/04/13 — Middle school career fair seeks participants from trades

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Middle school career fair seeks participants from trades

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on February 4, 2013 1:46 PM

The more professions represented at a career fair for middle school students, the better awareness about the local job market, organizers say.

And one area they would especially like to have on hand at next month's event is small businesses, particularly from the trades and vocational end.

An estimated 1,400 Wayne County seventh-graders are expected to attend the fourth annual middle school career fair, which will be held Feb. 12 at the Family YMCA, sponsored by Wayne County Chamber of Commerce's Wayne Education Network.

"The main push this year, we've got really great participation already, but the main push this year is trying to get more small businesses with trades, such as plumbers or electricians, carpenters, people that may work on the HVAC (heating and air conditioning) systems, things like that would be really good to have," said Karen Burnette, chairperson of the event.

"We don't have those types of jobs represented. We've got Wayne Community College and things like that represented on how to get there but to actually have people in those positions would be good for the children to see that."

Public, private and home-schooled students have been invited to attend.

The concept of reaching down into the younger grades is based upon research that middle school is a pivotal time when children choose to either continue their education or stop. Knowing there are job prospects before they get to high school can plant the seed and give them a goal to work toward.

"The seventh-grade guidance counselors throughout the county school system have been working with students prior to the event to help them plan their areas of interest," Mrs. Burnette said. "They will be prepared to visit those career booths when they arrive at the fair. Students will also be able to explore business or careers that they may not have experienced or seen before.

"We hope to broaden their career aspirations beyond what they may or may not have experienced so far."

One of the changes to the career fair this year is the length. In years past, it was a two-day event, but organizers recognized that placed a hardship on businesses to commit to both days.

It will now be a one-day event, that Tuesday from 8:15 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Response from the local business community has been positive, Mrs. Burnette said, with more than 60 commitments already received.

The ultimate goal is to plant the seeds of potential jobs once students complete high school or college, she added.

"The main thing is making sure that we spark an interest in the future work force so that they can be prepared to set their goals," she said. "We want them to maximize the benefits of their high school.

"I hope that the event will also show students how the skills and information they are learning now will help them in the future."

For more information on the fair, contact Janet Brock at the Chamber, 919-734-2241.