Skilled workers invited to job fair at OFHS

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Second annual SkillsUSA Future Fair on Tuesday
By: 

Warren Bluhm, wbluhm@newmedia-wi.com


About 350 students from 15 school districts and 100 members of the public attended the inaugural SkillsUSA Future Fair at Oconto Falls High School last year. (Times Herald file photo)

Oconto Falls High School officials are organizing their second annual SkillsUSA Future Fair, with more than 50 companies in attendance to introduce students and the public to trade and vocational employment opportunities in Northeast Wisconsin.

The school’s Technology Education Department has invited students from 15 school districts to attend the job fair Tuesday, which aims to tackle the widening skills gap that trade and manufacturing companies are facing with the retirement of many skilled workers.

“Our goal is to connect students and community members with manufacturing, construction, engineering, transportation and health service companies,” said John Bursa, tech ed teacher.

Some companies invited to the event plan to bring in equipment for demonstrations. Others will have samples of their products and representatives ready to talk to the students and parents — some even providing interviews on the spot, Bursa said.

Many firms offer youth apprenticeships, co-ops, internships and job shadowing programs, and some offer tuition reimbursement when the employee is ready to further his or her education or skill level, he said.

The SkillsUSA Future Fair is open to Oconto Falls High School students and parents, as well as those in the included local school districts and community members, starting at 12:30 p.m. in the high school fieldhouse. The public is invited to check it out from 3:30-5 p.m. At 4 p.m., OFHS technology education instructors will provide brief tours of their high school facilities for SkillsUSA Future Fair attendees and vendors.

Businesses of Northeast Wisconsin will have booths set up to showcase employment, co-op and internship opportunities so that attendees can see what well-paying and successful careers are being offered to the next generation of skilled workers. One objective when planning the SkillsUSA Future Fair was to include parents, because they can be very influential with their children’s future plans, Bursa said.

The 2018 job fair attracted about 350 students and about 100 members of the public from around the area.

Bursa noted that Oconto Falls has done well in the annual competition hosted by SkillsUSA — an organization of students, teachers and industry professionals working together to promote a skilled workforce.

The school has had 21 state champions in areas like machining and carpentry, which qualifies them for the national competition. Most recently, Jared VanHaren earned a gold medal in metal fabrication in his third trip to nationals last summer, becoming the first Oconto Falls student to take first place in the competition.