As sure as fall snowflakes in Colorado, the 2016 Annual Adams County Commissioners Career Expo took place on November 15. Approximately 5,700 8th graders descended on the Expo seeking career insights, interviewing experience, and valuable introductions to representatives from more than 80 area organizations from all industry sectors.
Equipped with a Career Expo passport and an insatiable desire to explore the path ahead, the students toured the Expo, conducted interviews, got a feel for various career options, and made connections with experienced professionals.
According to Adams County Commissioner, Charles “Chaz” Tedesco, “These kids had an opportunity to see what’s available for them in their next endeavor—out of high school. ‘What am I going to do when I graduate from high school? What kind of career do I want to pursue?’ The Expo gives them a first-hand look at what those careers are and whether or not they’re interested in them.” In addition, participants gained an understanding of what classes to take in high school to prepare them for success on their chosen career path.
The students thoroughly enjoyed the experience, with one exclaiming, “I’ve actually learned a lot more than I thought I would.” In fact, 97 percent of attendees said they had definitely or likely found a career they would consider pursuing. Another student emphasized the variety of the jobs represented at the Expo by sharing that there were many he “hadn’t even taken into consideration.” In particular, his eyes were opened to steel work, healthcare administration, and website development as possible career paths.
Among the most popular areas represented at the event were art, theater and video production, and health and medical sciences. “My favorite table at the Career Expo was the Kaiser Permanente stand,” said one student. “It strengthened my choice in becoming a doctor.”
Stats on Where the Jobs Are
Where are the vacancies in the Colorado job market--particularly those sectors that are large, growing, and pay well? Will our Career Expo graduates be funding others’ Kickstarter campaigns or will they need one of their own? What are the hottest jobs right now, and more importantly, what do they pay?
Advanced Manufacturing – As an industry that integrates next-gen machinery with computer systems to facilitate product development and production, it’s a wide umbrella. But, with 15,000 currently unfilled positions, future job-seekers will be happily singing in the rain beneath that umbrella. With a mean salary of almost $71,000, it’s a solid choice.
Healthcare – From administrators and patient advocates to CNAs, RNs, PAs, and MDs, healthcare can be an alphabet soup, but with 10,000 unfilled jobs, there are a lot of opportunities for today’s and tomorrow’s high school graduates. An average salary of $58,000 is nothing to sneeze at… but if you do, you’ll be in the right place.
Information Technology – Website developers, programmers, software engineers… there are many challenging and satisfying positions to choose from for tech-savvy graduates. Almost 9,000 jobs are currently unfilled in this industry. And the annual earnings are approximately $84,000. Code on.
Construction – From being a city employee to working for private entities, the housing and development market has turned around since the 2007 crash. Colorado is building (and rebuilding) once again. As many as 8,000 construction jobs are up for grabs in the state and it’s touted as the second fastest-growing industry in Adams County. Average earnings in this field are around $60,000.
Students and employers at the Career Expo agreed that the students should pursue their interests through job shadowing experiences in the E9to5 program as well as internships. Volunteering was encouraged as another way to learn more about a job. “I was so inspired and learned so much from the Expo,” said an attendee. “I even got a volunteer opportunity for the Denver Dumb Friend's League.”
In addition to learning about job-related skills and knowledge they must have in order to pursue different careers, students came away with a new appreciation for the importance of “soft skills” such as attendance, professionalism, and having a positive attitude. Many also commented on how it made them realize the importance of giving their best effort in high school.
As for their counterparts at the event, both students and employers gave high marks. Students commented that they were happy – and somewhat surprised – that company representatives seemed to really love their jobs and weren’t just “doing them for the money.” Employers were impressed with the preparation and professionalism of the students. They were also pleased with the variety of careers paths represented, noting that not all required a four-year college degree.
Brett Cochran, an attorney at Ramos Law, loved the Expo and can’t wait to do it again. He states, “The Career Expo is an excellent opportunity for students to learn what their passion is in life. It was not just educational for the students but also for the participants involved. There is nothing more rewarding than guiding your people on their path in life. I highly recommend it.”