While college fairs—events in which colleges eager to recruit and prospective students anxious to explore their options come together—are a normal part of the process for high school juniors and seniors, opportunities for secondary school students who may not be college-bound are hard to find. This spring, with help from a grant through the Vermont Community Foundation’s NEK Fund, Lyndon Institute (LI) plans on changing that by offering a career and apprenticeship fair, the first of its kind in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.
Like much of the country, Vermont is experiencing a shortage of workers in certain labor sectors. And while schools like Lyndon Institute and other high schools that sponsor tech centers are producing students with marketable skills who are well-prepared to enter the workforce and contribute to the economic vitality of the region, it is often difficult to connect them directly with potential employers and local resources that can help them earn a livable wage.
Angela Ryan, the fair’s organizer, has designed this event to help with this challenge. “We hope that by having a more interactive experience, students will be able to network with area employers eager for skilled workers and make those important connections,” she said.
Research from the McClure Foundation shows that 70% of Vermont’s highest paying occupations require some kind of credential after high school graduation. “Seniors are typically anxious about the transition out of high school. And this is just as true for those who aren’t going directly to a four-year college,” Ryan said. “For years students have been told that college was the best pathway out of poverty, but little attention has focused on other pathways to high-demand, high-paying jobs, such as certifications, apprenticeship programs, and other credentials of value. This fair will provide an opportunity for students to learn about area training programs or other local programs for those who want to stay and put down roots in our community.”
Ryan indicated the fair has another potential benefit for those who may not necessarily be graduating this spring. “Our event may be able to connect students with businesses who have summer employment opportunities, as well. Summer jobs are important chances for students to build their resumes, enhance their college applications, gain firsthand knowledge about what it takes to be an employee, or even explore possible future careers.”
Lyndon Institute is hoping to expand the reach of the fair to high schools not only in Caledonia County, but Orleans and Essex Counties, as well, and would like to see it become a yearly event. LI hopes to collaborate with area businesses and colleges, trade unions, the NEK Chamber of Commerce, the Department of Labor Apprenticeship coordinator, Lyndonville Rotary, and VSAC GEAR UP.
LI plans to hold the fair at the Fenton Chester Arena in Lyndon Center in April. Businesses and community organizations who are interested in participating are encouraged to contact Lyndon Institute’s Work Based Learning Coordinator, Michelle Parson at email@example.com.
Leave a Reply