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Website connects students, careers

Waupaca schools work with chamber

By Robert Cloud

A local website is being developed to help students find jobs and employers find students who want to explore career opportunities.

Called “Your Future Greater Waupaca Area,” the website’s goal is to connect students and educators with area employers.

“High school students are our future workforce,” said Bill Storck, a counselor at Waupaca High School. “We want to connect our students with future career planning, internships, youth apprenticeships and immediate employment.”

“The website isn’t just for employment. It offers opportunities for job shadowing, apprenticeships, job interviews,” said Julie Kosobocki, the Waupaca Works coordinator.

“Part of the process for deciding on a career is finding out what you do or don’t want to do,” Storck said.

Storck noted work experience in high school helps a student make career decisions earlier.

“Fifteen percent of our students will go right into the workforce,” said Jeff Dolski, a WHS counselor. “They may find that it’s cool to have a high-paying job in manufacturing rather than $120,000 in student loans.”

Students will be able to visit greaterwaupacaarea.yourfuturewisconsin.com and find general information about various careers.

The site will show various career clusters, such as agriculture and natural resources; marketing and manufacturing; communications and technology; science, engineering and mathematics; business management and finance; architecture and construction; transportation and logistics; law and public safety; and human services and education.

Students can explore their interests, and then find an area business that may provide a matching career opportunity.

The site will also offer information on career and college resources.

There are links to the Waupaca Job Center, Wisconsin Career Pathways, Wisconsin Worknet, the U.S. Department of Labor and a video on career planning, among others.

There are also links to area tech schools, colleges and universities.

The website’s organizers hope area high school graduates either remain in the community to be part of a skilled workforce or return after college with the knowledge to fill upper-level positions.

Website seeks businesses
While school counselors will be directing students to the site, the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce will be recruiting area businesses to post on it.

“There is no cost for a business to participate in this website,” according to Terri Schulz, president of the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a huge need in this area, and we want to make those connections.”

Participating businesses do not need to be members of the chamber.

Companies needing employees, either immediately or in the future, can post openings for interns, job shadowing or immediate jobs.

Employers willing to conduct practice job interviews or explain the needs of their business to students exploring careers are also needed.

“With the investment of time that a business puts into this program, they’ll be paid back exponentially,” Storck said. “They can find current and future employees.”

Storck said one of the most important connections the website can offer will be youth apprenticeships.

Waupaca High School already has about 50 students participating in youth apprenticeships.

“Part of their education is to be released from school to do the work,” Storck said. “They earn credits as well as a paycheck, but most importantly they get experience.”

Dolski said participating businesses must follow certain guidelines that align the apprenticeship with the school’s curriculum, so the students receive certification.

The apprenticeships are not limited to trades, but include all areas of the economy.

There can be apprenticeships in sales, marketing, accounting, veterinary medicine, health care and architecture.

“The goal is that the students learn good skills,” Storck said.

Schulz said the chamber hopes to recruit enough participating businesses to roll out the website for students in the spring of 2019.

Any business in Waupaca, Waushara or Portage counties may connect to the website by calling Schulz at 715-258-7343.

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