Preparing students for the workforce

Alex Doty • Mar 28, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Lakeshore Middle School seventh-graders focused on their futures during the annual Career Day, which took place Tuesday morning.

There were 19 representatives speaking from 18 Grand Haven-area workplaces — such as educators, health care providers, media, public safety workers and municipal employees. The objective of the morning event was to prepare students to be work-ready by learning about local career opportunities.

Each presenter spent 25 minutes with five classes of students, talking about the education and training needed to qualify for vocations within the various career fields, and how the lessons learned today will prepare them for a future in the workforce.

“What we try to do — and sometimes, some years it works better than others — is we try to get a variety of speakers from a variety of different types of positions with a variety of education levels,” said Steve Ball, a counselor at Lakeshore Middle School. “Not everyone is going to do the same thing after high school.”

The event, Ball noted, has taken place for nearly 20 years, and began when both Lakeshore and White Pines middle schools opened. Ball said students are typically engaged during each presentation.

“I was able to get around and see a number of the speakers,” Ball said. “Seeing the kids engage with them is nice.”

Seventh-grader Annelise Valenzuela was one of the engaged students who heard what the various presenters had to say.

“With the medical field ones, I personally didn’t think I was going to go into the medical field, but now I’m thinking about it,” she said. “With the journalism one, I like writing, but I’m just not great at it.”

After hearing a presentation from the Grand Haven Tribune, Valenzuela said she might look into writing more in some way.

Grand Haven Township Fire Chief Tom Gerencer showcased the responsibilities involved with a firefighter job.

“It’s very exciting to see the excitement at this age,” he said of the students. “They’re a captive audience, so they’re kind of easy to win over.”

Gerencer noted that the students seemed to enjoy seeing how firefighters, EMTs and paramedics operate during an emergency.

“Showing them the different kinds of equipment and that sort of thing really engages them and kept them interested in what’s going on,” he said.

Gerencer said he hoped his presentation helps to spur the future generation of rescue workers.

“We have an EMT and paramedic shortage across the nation,” he noted. “We need 18- to 25-year-olds to become interested in this so we’re able to fill some of those gaps.”

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