NTC, partners open students’ eyes to local careers

March 28, 2014

From PriceCountyDaily.com: “NTC, partners open students’ eyes to local careers” –– The Phillips Campus of Northcentral Technical College (NTC) is once again teaming up with community partners to put on a series of events aimed at helping local youngsters at different points in their educational path explore career options available to them right here at home.

First up was Campus Visit Day, which invited local high school students to the Phillips NTC campus for an exploration of occupations and coursework offered at NTC in support of those career fields Wednesday, March 26. Event organizers were expecting around 200 students to come in from across Price County and Butternut for the visit.

A smaller scale version of the event made its debut last year. This time around the visit was expanded to include more academic disciplines and such hands-on features as simulators brought in by NTC’s health division and activities in the welding and electromechanical area of programming.

Ahead of the event, Campus Dean Bobbi Damrow explained that most visiting students would come from the sophomore grade level. Older students, in particular seniors, tend to already be set on a career path by this point in the school year, Damrow said. “So we wanted to give those sophomores kind of an early exploration experience.”

Instructors from Wausau were brought in to answer any questions students had about a specific field of study or the outlook for a particular career path. Next in the event line-up is the Price County Career Symposium, coming to the Chequamegon School District’s Park Falls campus Thursday, March 27 beginning at 5 p.m. The event is open to Price County middle school and high school students and parents of youth in those age groups.

“It’s really important that not only the students attend but that they bring a parent, adult friend or guardian in with them just so they have that support and when they want to go back and talk about that field, they have someone to talk to in their personal life.”

NTC and some of its partners, including local school districts and Northwest Wisconsin CEP (Concentrated Employment Program), Inc., introduced the event last year as an avenue for helping students discover local opportunities in the manufacturing field, nicknamed “Gold Collar” careers due to the increasing demand for a more advanced technological skillset within the occupational area. This year healthcare, or “White Coat,” employment offerings are also being spotlighted at the event due to the high demand for candidates in the career field, Damrow explained.

Students and parents will be able to explore displays set up by local representatives of the manufacturing and healthcare fields between 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Attendants will have the chance to ask those professional such questions as the types of career opportunities offered at their business, competencies and skills required to clinch a job in the career field, classes students should be taking in high school and what they can do to further their exploration of those occupations, Damrow said.

The event is also set to feature panel discussions and Q and A sessions led by a sampling of local employees and employers drawn from the healthcare and manufacturing fields.  The “Gold Collar” discussion runs from 5:30-6 p.m., and the “White Coat” group takes center stage from 6-6:30 p.m.

“So, the Career Symposium is kind of one outlet that allows our high school students to connect with local business and industry,” Damrow said, adding that of course, those who have a hand in the event would be glad to see local students pursue some of the occupations highlighted there and one day, come back to work in Price County.

The last program in the event series is geared at a younger group on the age spectrum – area students from grades 5-8. Get S.M.A.R.T. (Science & Math Activities using Real-world Thinking) will be connecting students in that age range with their choice of two hands-on activities at the Phillips Campus of NTC Saturday, April 5 from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Each student needs to be accompanied by a parent or guardian at the event.

Damrow explained that the event, which was open to 20 youngsters in its debut at the Phillips campus last year, has been expanded to include two new activity offerings in order to accommodate more student participants.

Projects in welding and electronics will be back alongside a new IT Media session giving students the chance to produce their own music video and a new Mini Medic tutorial guiding students through basic life-saving skills.

“We hope that this will inspire our middle school students to actually take an active approach to early career exploration,” Damrow said.

A little over half of the 48 slots open to area students were already filled as of March 24. Anyone who’d like to be a part of the event is encouraged to call the Phillips campus at (715) 339-4555 – the sooner the better as spaces are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

“It’s just overall a really fun day for the students,” Damrow said.

There is a $15 charge per student attending the event to help cover program expenses. That fee secures students lunch, their completed projects, a T-shirt and door prizes as well as lunch for their adult companion. The Price County Economic Development Association stepped up as co-sponsor for Get S.M.A.R.T., helping to cover the cost of program materials.

“They see the importance in giving these experiences to the students at a young age,” Damrow said.

Those kind of community partnerships are really what NTC is all about, with the school needing to work with representatives of local industry and education in order to “create a pipeline” that puts future employees to work in Price County, as Damrow explained.

She noted that one major goal of these types of events is to make such vital connections with businesses and industry.

Damrow said, “We have some fantastic career opportunities here in Price County, so having the partners that we have, business and industry and the Price County Economic Development Association, is critical to the success of the events.”

She emphasized that community members are also welcome to stop by events in the NTC calendar and discover what they are all about.

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