Building the U.P.’s future in CTE

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A talent summit hosted by Michigan Works on Thursday helped connect businesses to potential employees.

Ali Gering and Hailey Bourgeois are two juniors from Kingsford High School who are on a very unique career path. Ali said, “A couple years ago, I did a speech about a career I wanted to do, and I found underwater welding, and I thought it was a very interesting career.” Hailey commented, “I wanted to be in a field where I could be a girl, and do it better than a boy.”

Ali and Hailey were just two of the students at the U.P. Talent Summit Thursday, among dozens of educators, business leaders and industry leaders brainstormed on how to ensure the U.P.’s future in Career and Technical Education. Paul Bonsall, the Director at the Dickinson-Iron Intermediate School District, said, “Career and Technical Education is actually occupational training where students can try on for size various occupations at the high school level, find out if they like those classes or don’t like them.”

Vice President of Organizational Excellence at Systems Control in Iron Mountain, Jon Harry said, “Today’s program has us interested because it brings in the collaboration of business and what the schools are doing, specifically some of the vocational programs that really feed our business and helps us grow.”

Jerry Doucette, on the Board of Directors at Michigan Works, said, “Michigan Works’ goal here is to go out and find business leaders, find out their needs and to match those kind of workforce people that are coming into the workforce into these jobs.”

The need for skilled labor may have a perfect U.P. pipeline. Hailey said, “I’ll be able to fix things around the house. If I have a four wheeler that’s breaking, I could fix it.”

Ali is focused on her future after high school. She said, “I would like to go to an engineering school, maybe get my engineering degree and a little bit further into welding and then pursue a career with welding.”

Getting a head start on a career path in the trades during high school can turn out to be a win-win for both the students and the U.P.

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