Over the past few months, eastern Idaho high schools have held career and technology expos to showcase many of the high-tech careers offered throughout the state.
Seven expos were scheduled to take place by the end of spring, allowing students the chance to gain hands-on experience, talk to employers and discover a path to the careers highlighted at each expo.
“This event was beneficial to students and parents because it introduced them to high paying technology jobs they could get with very few years of training,” said Jane Ward, superintendent of the Aberdeen School District. “Many jobs offered to pay for training while they were employed. Jobs were also introduced to students that would allow them to stay in the communities they currently live in.”
The technology expos are a product of a collaboration called YourFit. It was formed by the Idaho National Laboratories, local schools, Idaho State University’s College of Technology, Idaho Department of Labor, local governments and economic development agencies to familiarize high school students and their parents with the technical education available and prepare them for careers in high tech, high wage and high demand careers.
“I was encouraged by the support business owners expressed when presented with the idea of the YourFIT concept,” said Kristen Jenson, executive director of Great Rift Business Development. “All of the businesses I contacted were excited to participate in our expos.”
The careers showcased at each technology expo include:
- Machining (computer numerical control)
- Maintenance engineers/mechanics
- Nuclear operating tech
- Information technology GIS/CIS/cybersecurity
- Outdoor electrical and unmanned aerial systems (drones)
These expos allow students and parents the opportunity to engage in conversation with employees who currently work in these technical careers. Those who participated were not only introduced to new careers, they were given information about the path forward to help guide them in their decisions regarding which classes to enroll in while in high school so they can be prepared to enter training after graduation.
“As a parent and economic development director I can see the value the expos provide for students. Their exposure to technical career fields in a hands-on setting with employers is an excellent opportunity for them to understand more about careers they didn’t even know existed prior to the expo,” Jenson said.
— Sean Bunce,
Idaho Department of Labor