BOYNE CITY – A new initiative, Career Tech to Careers, is celebrating the decision of high school graduates to enter the workforce after earning their diploma – specifically those students whose high school careers included Career and Technical Education classes.
“There are many ways that young adults can excel in life after they graduate from high school – it can be by attending a college, university or other post-secondary training, joining the military, and also by taking the skills they learned and heading directly into careers,” said Jim Rummer, Career and Technical Education Director for Charlevoix-Emmet Intermediate School District. “This new Char-Em ISD ‘signing event’ initiative recognizes those students who are putting the knowledge and skills they developed through career tech education classes directly to work.”
Rummer and members of the career tech staff celebrated the first Career Tech to Careers “signing event” on July 9, 2019, at Great Lakes Energy’s headquarters in Boyne City with Alex Sutton, a 2019 graduate of East Jordan High School. Sutton completed the Energy Fundamentals: Line Worker Emphasis class offered at Boyne City High School last school year, and he was able to use those skills to land a position with Great Lakes Energy. Sutton is working as a cable/facilities locator for the company, and he was pleased to be offered a job in a career path he had been interested in for several years.
“I enjoy the hands-on aspect of the work. The opportunity was there to get a head start on my career with this position,” Sutton said. “It all just came together.”
Also on-hand for the Career Tech to Careers event were Sutton’s parents, Jennifer and John Sutton; Dave DeNise, Great Lakes Energy Operations Manager and Sutton’s supervisor; and co-instructors of the line worker training course, James Rincon and Derek Maki, who are also Great Lakes Energy employees.
“Great Lakes Energy is thrilled to partner with Char-Em ISD to recognize Alex, and students like him, who are choosing to enter into the skilled trades career path,” said Bill Scott, President and CEO of Great Lakes Energy. “This not only meets the ever-increasing demand for skilled trade workers, but also provides opportunities for students who wish to begin a stable career in a growing market immediately after graduating high school. As an industry leader in our community, our cooperative remains committed to growing and developing skilled employees across a variety of career paths.”
The line worker program will be offered again in the 2019-20 school year. Any career tech class at any Char-Em ISD school is open to any student in any local district; they need to arrange transportation to and from the program if attending from out of the host district.
Rummer said celebrating students who enter the work force after high school is an important step in encouraging other young adults to consider careers in the skilled trades, as these positions will remain in demand and often provide family-supporting wages and benefits.
“For students who might not be attending colleges, trade schools or whatever it may be after graduation, this is a way for them to earn a very good wage, avoid post-secondary training costs, and enhance our communities by providing skilled labor in areas that serve all of us, every day,” Rummer said. “We love to hear these stories about students who complete career tech education classes, head out to begin fulfilling careers, and make us all proud.”
Many times, Rummer added, students who receive scholarships, spots on a college sports team, or offers to attend elite colleges are recognized publicly, while young adults starting valuable careers go unnoticed. “Equally important to us are the students who have followed the roadmap of career tech activities through elementary, middle and high school, which has led them directly into employment in a career,” he noted.
The Mansfield Family Foundation has offered its support to the Career Tech to Careers initiative with a grant that will fund gift cards to students to purchase equipment and/or clothing necessary for their new careers.
Char-Em ISD will share Career Tech to Careers signing events as they occur throughout the year; stay tuned for additional recognitions of graduates who demonstrate direct links from high school Career and Technical Education training to careers.