Arlington students learned more about local career opportunities besides college at the third annual Arlington High School Skilled Trades Fair on April 9.
The fair began as a way to introduce a broader range of options to students.
Community Colleges, universities, U.S. armed forces, U.S. Forest Service, and local companies and unions came out to talk to students about the range of jobs available to them.
“It’s just to show the kids that there are careers out there. You don’t just have to go to college and there are jobs where you could get hired right now,” said Collin Nelson, welding and engineering teacher at Arlington High School and the teacher who began the fair.
The district’s director of college and career readiness, Brian Long, said that many students desire something besides college after graduation.
“Students like the fact that it’s not just college oriented. A lot of them hear about that ‘college for all’ model and they want an opportunity for something else,” he said.
“The reality is that the vast majority may or may not want to go to college and we want them to see all their opportunities,” he said.
Long said that sometimes trade jobs get a bad wrap, but they are quality careers for people who want a stable job.
“Most people get employed in these kinds of jobs sometime in their life,” he said.
There were also a number of different industries at the trades fair to talk to students about what they do.
“We’re just showing them that there are these different avenues of careers out there,” said Nelson.
Student Kiana Merhzad said that she learned about options that hadn’t crossed her mind before.
“I never before thought of dentistry and now I’m kind of interested in it,” she said.
“I think the fair is really cool. It’s a good opportunity for everyone because not everyone gets to see all the careers. I’ve definitely opened my mind up to other careers,” she said.
The fair had nine organizations and businesses in its first year, 30 in its second year and had 39 this year.
“We’re getting to the point where companies are talking to other companies about this,” said Nelson.
“Almost all of them are extremely local, which is something we enjoy,” said Long.
Students are also able to bring their resumes down to the fair and some can get hired right away.
“A lot of our vendors are hiring . The kids can hand in their resumes right there and last year we had five or six kids get jobs on the spot,” said Long.
“I’ve heard from other companies that there are kids getting jobs here, anywhere from summer jobs to apprenticeships, which could be a lifelong career,” said Nelson.
He wanted to thank all of the businesses for donating their morning and resources to help talk to local students.