Business representatives, educators collaborate on workforce

Sarah Kirby
The Career Technical Education Industry Advisory Night on Nov. 1, 2017 included a tour of the Mount Shasta High School manufacturing facility, where a student explained how he designed an image that a Computer Numerical Control router machine cuts out of sheet metal. By Sarah Kirby

More than 50 Siskiyou County business representatives and educators attended the Career Technical Education Industry Advisory Night at Mount Shasta High School Nov. 1 and brainstormed ways to grow the local workforce from within.

Business representatives sat at tables organized by industry sectors including hospitality/culinary arts, health, natural resources, manufacturing, agriculture, business entrepreneur, graphic production/media, and public safety.

“It takes collaboration for a community or county to survive,” said Terry Jones, program manager of Discover Siskiyou, who was sitting with the hospitality/culinary arts industry group. He said he has only been in his position for three months and was thankful to be at the event.

“We have to push in the same direction, and this event is fostering that push,” Jones said. “Personally, I would like to have had more internship experiences while figuring out what I wanted to do. Two qualities I feel are important for employees’ success are being responsible and being a team player. You have to show up and accomplish a task that you are given; you must also collaborate with others.”

The various sectors shared the qualities they brainstormed. Ideas ranged from how students presented a pair of fresh eyes, to how students could aid with developing a company's social media presence, to even workaway programs.

Survey results about traits employers are looking for in employees were reviewed and used to devise ways in which industry can benefit from work-based learning opportunities with students.

These types of opportunities involved unpaid and paid internships, job shadowing, work experiences, guest speakers, and apprenticeships.

Marie Caldwell, Superintendent of Scott Valley Unified School District, saw the meeting as an opportunity for economic progress.

“I hope that the industry partners can connect with the message that Siskiyous SOAR will achieve in the next one and a-half years, which is to produce a workforce for Siskiyou to grow,” said Caldwell, who gave the evening’s welcome address with Mount Shasta High School educator Bright Nichols-Stock, EdD. “Economically, we are stalled because of lack of workforce, and students may gain real world knowledge through these programs that connect future employers with employees. We plan to use technology to help bridge this employer gap.”

SOAR stands for Siskiyou Occupational Advancement Roadmap, a project through which members gather data pertaining to the needs of county employees in an attempt to bridge the gap between recent graduates and employers’ needs.

Sergeant Jeremiah LaRue of the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department, who is also an instructor at College of the Siskiyous, spoke as the table lead for the public safety sector. He shared how job shadowing programs related to law enforcement and the police academy at COS have successfully landed students with full time jobs in the county.

After each table shared their ideas the night ended with an option to tour the Mount Shasta High School Manufacturing facility, which is part of the MHS Manufacturing Business Career Pathways program. Program director Thad Wallace said he is proud of his students and the skills they have acquired through the training.

Senior Jed Drew was there, staying late on a school night to work on his senior project, a go-kart buggy. A pile of shiny silver parts sat on the ground, and Drew stood next to a 3D printer that was carving out a part that he is using in his project.

“I’m designing and fabricating a frame around these parts,” he said. “It’s my design and everything. I want to go into automotive or motor sport engineering. It’s my dream. Well, my passion for engineering really started because I love cars and then wondered how they work and then wanted to make them go faster. This program is helping to open my eyes to the possibilities out there. MSHS students should check out the manufacturing programs because they may fall in love with something they never thought they would do.”

The evening’s dinner was catered by Dunsmuir High and Etna High School Culinary Arts Programs.

Tammy Howerton, the Culinary Arts Teacher at Etna High, explained that this was the sixth or seventh year they catered for the event. They provided the dessert.

Howerton and her assistant, Tammy Thackerary, said they enjoy attending the Siskiyous CTE Success event because it gives them and their team of students a chance to learn about college and career ready opportunities, including upcoming competitions.

“We are going to Florida to compete in culinary competitions,” Howerton said. “This is our first competition at Walt Disney World. We have our airline tickets and we are set to go. Five students are going. We are excited.”

For more information about Siskiyou CTE Success contact Mount Shasta High School.