While job fairs are a popular way for businesses to attract new employees, students in Columbia County are flipping the script.
The Columbia County School District (CCSD) is partnering with Columbia County, the Columbia County Chamber Foundation, and the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) for the fourth annual CTAE (Career, Technical and Agricultural Education) Workforce Showcase Competition on Friday, Feb. 16.
Brooks Smith, director of the school district’s CTAE programs, told ABD this showcase is also a competition for students to show off to potential employers the skills they are developing in the CTAE programs.
“As we continue to ensure that we have a strong workforce, what this does for employers is sort of like the reverse of what career fair does,” he explained. “A career fair showcases companies, businesses, and the opportunities that they have. This does something opposite. This shows employers, businesses, and the industry in the area the work-ready skills that our students are learning in high school.”
Smith said the competitions range from students demonstrating automotive technician skills by diagnosing and repairing an unknown problem with a car. Students will also demonstrate welding and culinary skills, while students in the agricultural program show off their abilities to operate a tractor.
He said the skills they are developing can allow students to find immediate employment when they graduate from high school.
“We have students that are in our health science programs, we have students that earn their medical assisting certification while they’re still in high school, and when they graduate, they could go right to whatever medical provider there was,” he said. “They could secure employment, potentially, with that certification, which isn’t even an associate’s degree, certainly not a four-year degree, but it is an actual certification.”
Smith said this does not preclude a student from pursuing a two- or four-year degree, but they can be earning an income while continuing their education, and many employers offer tuition support.
The Columbia County Chamber Foundation is also preparing to offer the more traditional program, the 4th Annual Career and College Expo on March 7.
“That’s always one of our favorite ones, bridging the gap between our talent, our future workforce, and our employers,” said Russell Lahodny, President and CEO of the Chamber. “It’s a great place for families and kids to go in and see the types of careers that are available in our community. Then, you can walk across on the other side of the exhibition center and find those colleges that offer those degrees.”
The Workforce Showcase will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the Multipurpose Facility located at the Columbia County Sheriff’s Complex. Businesses wanting to participate can email Smith at brooks.smith@CCBOE.net.
The Career and College Expo is at the Columbia County Exhibition Center from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The chamber is accepting registrations from businesses that want to participate at www.columbiacountychamberfoundation.org.