MontcoWorks NOW will launch a job shadowing program in secondary schools

NORRISTOWN – What do I want to be when I grow up? What happens next? These are questions that students often face as they move on to the next stage after high school.

MontcoWorks NOW, an organization within the Montgomery County Middle Unit, will soon launch an initiative that will give 100 Montgomery County high school students an overview of employment opportunities in the graduate industry to help them answer this question.

“(It’s) just a great way to connect the employment world to our local school districts,” said Hakim Jones, career counselor for youth workforce.

Daniel Chominski, administrator of the college and career readiness program, said the program will focus on “high-priority major occupations,” including construction, health care and manufacturing.

“They’re really feeling the pressure of the money tsunami and the big quit,” Chominski said of those industries. “Everyone needs people.”

“What we are trying to do is create a better understanding between these two entities through facilitated collaborations and meetings…with an end game of creating toolkits and templates that these companies and industries can use so that they can better deliver workplace learning. experiences in the form of industry tours and in the form of job shadowing experiences,” continued Chominski.

Grant to finance the initiative

According to a Montgomery County spokesperson, a Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industries Business Education Partnership Grant application in the amount of $118,007 will fund the one-year initiative.

Once the program launches on July 1, between 80 and 100 juniors and seniors from Abington, Norristown Area, North Penn and Upper Perkiomen high schools will be able to participate, according to Kendall Glouner-Zeamer, assistant director of program development in the office of student services.

“We’re starting with four high schools that have provided us with letters of support saying this is something that would benefit them,” Glouner-Zeamer said. “If we are able to develop further, we will definitely want to open it up to others.”

“We want our young people who may not have the opportunity to go to technical school…to experience a job in construction, to experience a job in manufacturing, to experience a job in health care,” Chominski said. “Because it helps our young people make more informed decisions about what they want to do when they’re older.”

Finances are also part of this decision-making process, as Chominski emphasized the importance of not “going into debt” when pursuing an alternate career path.

“We talk about it all the time,” he said. “There’s a reason there’s so much college debt in this country that goes unpaid for people who maybe drop out after the freshman or sophomore year of college, and maybe it’s because that the informed decision or things aren’t where they could have been, and that’s no one’s fault, but I think there’s a shift in mindset happening now where these learning experiences based on the job are things that need to happen.

Educate Educators

Teachers and other education personnel are also a crucial part of this program, according to Chominski.

“So that’s also a big piece: educating educators about the types of jobs available in manufacturing, construction, and health care so they can pass that on to the young people they mentor,” did he declare.

The organizers are actively working to mobilize businesses in the region and create a network.

Chominski added that the grant funding covers costs that schools may incur for transportation and staff. The grant is expected to continue until mid-2023.

“It’s just good information,” Chominski said. “The more information young people have to make an informed decision, the better that decision and the potential outcome will be.”

Glouner-Zeamer agreed.

“Sometimes it’s not about helping students figure out what they want to do, but it’s also about helping them figure out what they might now want to do,” she said. . “There are times when young people make decisions about post-secondary education without being able to see this work in action.

job search service

The Norristown-based organization globally offers employment resources to eligible 14- to 24-year-olds in Montgomery County, ranging from job fairs to resume-writing workshops to training.

“Your typical high school teenager, and sometimes families, only know the jobs that we all know: the mainstream retail industries, the big box stores, your typical high school job, or your typical college-entry job. range,” Jones said. “I think our department — our organization — can connect our students to the career options they have in the many high-priority professions.”

Jones stressed that the opportunity for teenagers to explore different career options is crucial.

“Today’s jobs are very different from yesterday’s jobs,” Jones said. “So I think what we give to young people, their families and educators breaks down some stereotypes about different jobs.”

He used manufacturing as an example, an industry that contributes $2.71 trillion a year to the national economy, according to the National Association of Manufacturers, which cited numbers from the fourth quarter of 2021. Workers can earning an average salary of $92,832 in the United States.

“The world of manufacturing has changed dramatically,” Jones said. “When people (before) think about manufacturing, they think you get dirty every day and your back hurts.

“Now they’re teaching people how to program machines, and you wear a pair of khakis all day, and make lots of money and work somewhere within a 15-20 minute commute,” he continued. “I think the partnership allows people to understand what the workforce is really like today and what the roles entail…many of them have changed given the technology, or just the fact that the times have changed.”

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