Chamber, local scholarship foundation intend to highlight real-world job options during visits
Career day talks can only go so far in inspiring teenagers to the varied job prospects in the work world.
The Grafton Area Chamber of Commerce and the Grafton Education Foundation were looking to fill that void on Wednesday, Oct. 16, when nearly 500 Grafton High School students hit the street for a first-ever Career Exploration Day.
During the day, buses transported students to job sites throughout the community to learn about career opportunities in manufacturing, health care, education and marketing.
The goal was to expose students to workplace settings and to provide prospective employees with information as they think about career possibilities.
More than a dozen local employers took part in the career day, with students boarding shuttling buses to visit two job sites during the day.
Participating businesses included Kapco Inc., John Crane Engineered Bearings, Waukesha Metal Products, RAM Tool, Blanking Systems/Oetlinger, Exacto Spring Corp., Axcesor, Gilman USA, Frank Mayer & Associates and Gauthier Biomedical.
Stops were also made at Concordia University Wisconsin and Milwaukee Area Technical College North Campus, both in Mequon.
The program was made possible through a $3,000 AT&T Wisconsin Innovation & Investment Award.
Grafton Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Pam King said the seeds for the program were sown, during a 2012 brainstorming session on ways to address the manufacturing skills shortage in Grafton.
From that session, the Grafton Manufacturing Alliance was formed. The group has hosted two manufacturing career fairs at the high school.
King said the AT&T grant allowed the group to bring students — freshmen, sophomores and juniors — to local job sites. Representatives from the Foundation helped write the grant proposal.
She said everyone involved agreed the on-site visits would open the eyes of manystudents.
“We believe that it will be much more impactful for our students to see and experience actual job sites rather than just hearing about them,” King said.
“With manufacturing in particular, it is important for our students to see what it looks like and all of the technology that is involved.”
Ken McCormick, principal of Grafton High School, said the tours are sure to make an impression.
“This event is a neat opportunity for our students to travel out into the community to explore potential careers and not only see firsthand the available jobs, but also begin to plan for their future academic and work careers,” McCormick said.
Foundation President Bob Hoffman said the program was a welcome opportunity to collaborate with the business community and to support the group’s slogan, “Quality Schools, Together.”
“Thanks to AT&T, this award will help us live our mission of connecting the community and businesses to our Grafton schools,” Hoffman said.
“I am hopeful this is just the first of many grants from local businesses that the Foundation can use to fund other Grafton School District programs.”
The AT&T Wisconsin Innovation & Investment Award program provides funding to organizations and programs that improve the community by advancing education, enhancing the environment, promoting economic development, or delivering other community services. This is the second year of the program.
“We are very proud to support the efforts of Grafton’s Chamber, business and education leaders to introduce students to the many exciting careers available in the Grafton community,” said Julie Tonkovitz, director of external affairs for AT&T Wisconsin.
“As a company, AT&T is committed to investing in education and helping prepare our young people for future success.”