OLIVE TWP. — Students enrolled in a GED and skilled trades program at Zeeland Adult Education had a chance to meet with more than a dozen local employers during a career fair Wednesday, May 18.
The event was a collaborative effort from ZAE, the OAISD’s Thompson M-TEC and West Michigan Works. It was meant to help students find employment, as well as to help local companies fill in-demand positions.
“The benefit to bringing them all in one place is that we’re able to serve our students and the employers,” said Tonia Castillo, director of adult training and career services at Thompson M-TEC. “We’re able to bring them into one place while they’re both looking for each other.
“Employers have such a need to increase their workforce, especially in skilled trades, so this gives them the opportunity to come out here and share what they’re doing and gives our students the opportunity to show the skills they are learning.”
Twenty local employers attended the event, which had 35 students signed up to attend.
The event was for students enrolled at ZAE through a special programs grant from the state. The grant allows students who are enrolled in a GED program through ZAE to simultaneously take a career technical education class at the Thompson M-TEC for free.
Students participate in programs in the fields of commercial and residential skilled trades, health sciences, manufacturing and office and technology. By providing students with an opportunity to study a skilled trade while pursuing their GED, the program helps better prepare them for the workforce.
“When students just go through a GED (program), they think ‘OK, now what?’” said Michael O’Connor, ZAE program director. “With this, they have our career coaching to make sure their portfolios are all prepared, they teach them job interview skills.”
By holding the event at M-TEC, rather than the typical location at Midtown Center, employers could get a glimpse of the technology students use during their training.
“Typically we’ve done this at the Midtown Center,” Castillo said. “But this year we wanted to bring the employers where the students learn so they can see the equipment and where their education takes place.”
A graduation celebration for students in the Zeeland Adult Education program will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 7, at Midtown Center.
This article originally appeared on The Holland Sentinel: Career fair connects Zeeland Adult Education students, local employers