By Steve Fryling
Human resource managers tell us one of our great needs locally and nationally is for young people who are motivated and trained to go into work in various professions and skilled trades.
Vicksburg High School, in conjunction with the Education For Employment (EFE) program and 10 employers from the area, are helping to find and train and those young people in Vicksburg. In January, the program held a “Manufacturing Interview Day” for students involved in the EFE manufacturing program.
According to Jason Luke, the program coordinator, the interview day is just as important to employers as it is for students. “These employers really need to develop talent that they can hire and develop early. They are scouting for motivated students so that they can have a shot at hiring them right out of school for their companies. In some cases, contacts for follow up interviews are being made at these interviews.” Luke also adds that students benefit just as much. It gives them valuable experience in interviewing and helping the students discern what they want to do in their high school education and beyond.
Jim Williams, an interviewer from Eimo, was enthusiastic about his experience. “I really didn’t know what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised at how much time the students put into to this. Every student that I interviewed did extremely well. They were well dressed and had resumes that any employer would be happy to look at. I had one student midway through the day that after her interview, I actually felt like I was interviewed by her, she was so excited, confident and determined about what she was going to be doing after high school. I’ve interviewed many people in my life and I must say that many all these students interviewed better than most adults that I’ve interviewed. I’m very excited to see tomorrow’s work force getting ready for their career.”
The benefits are apparent to Andrew Miller, a freshman at VHS and one of the students interviewed. “It was a great experience, although I was new to it. Being able to participate in interviews now gives me a great head start on knowing where I want to be and what I want to do. Not many students my age get this early experience,” Miller said. Currently, he is leaning toward enlisting in the military and then enrolling at a college or university.
Becky Lussier-Tardy was a hiring representative from Schupan and Sons in Kalamazoo. She conducted interviews with students throughout the day. She complimented the students: “They were very well prepared and professionally dressed. They had a professional and friendly demeanor.” She was also impressed with the course work that they have already undergone and how well they articulate themselves. Lussier-Tardy says she intends on pursuing several of these students further by making recommendations to provide job offers as soon as they are out of school.
Keith Russell, from the Stryker Corporation, said “I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the event. The students were well-prepared to interview with different companies and asked good questions in the interviews. It’s encouraging to see so many students excited about careers in skilled trades today.”
About 110 students in grades 9-12 participated, along with area employers. All of the employers had either co-op, summer, part-time, or full-time employment opportunities available for these young people. Following the 10-minute interview, each student was provided with verbal feedback regarding what they did right and where they need to make improvements.
Area employers who conducted interviews included Denso, Eimo, Flowserve, Forrest, Humphrey, Levannes, Liberty Mold, Schupan and Sons, Sertic Consulting, and Stryker.