CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Thousands of students descended on the Chambersburg Area Senior High School field house Friday for the first Franklin County Student Career Expo.
About 3,200 eighth- and 10th-grade students from Chambersburg, Fannett-Metal, Greencastle, Shalom Christian Academy, Shippensburg, Tuscarora and Waynesboro schools attended the event sponsored by the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce (Franklin County Student Career Expo Committee) and the South Central Tech Prep Consortium.
“This is a pilot program. When we started this event, we wanted to get the eighth-graders involved because they are starting to think about careers,” said Sandy Traynor, co-chairwoman of the event. “We wanted to get the 10th-graders involved because they are getting serious about what they want to do.”
Fifty exhibitors representing the financial, health care, manufacturing, public service, education, nonprofit and small-business sectors participated to show local young people the types of jobs and careers available locally, Traynor said.
“It will be a success if we can connect students with some of these really neat career areas that are being represented here today. That’s a big reason why we wanted to have this to introduce students to different careers that they might not even know exist here in Franklin County,” Traynor said.
“This is a huge undertaking,” said Dave Sciamanna, executive director of the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce.
He said creating a working dialogue between the educational sector and the local business community has been in the works for years.
“It’s all about exposing kids to opportunities — the business community is always looking for skilled workers. Businesses can’t exist without a work force, and even today, with high unemployment, you’re already hearing businesses express concern about matching up the skills with opportunity, so this dialogue is extremely critical,” Sciamanna said.
Kathy Dixon, community relations coordinator for Lutheran Home Care and Hospice in Chambersburg (Pa.), said her organization always has employment opportunities.
“There’s just a huge need for health care workers with the aging population. It’s just growing. We are so busy. We’re always hiring,” Dixon said.
She said it’s important that students begin looking at their career options at an early age.
“This (career expo) gives them a really good feel, with all different types of industry here. Most of them don’t know all the different industries and all the types of jobs that are available in this area. It really will be a good experience for the kids.”
Alli Harbour, 15, and several of her 10th-grade classmates from Waynesboro Area Senior High School strolled past the display tables lined up in the field house.
“I think it’s cool. This is a good idea. It keeps people educated about what they can do after high school,” Alli said.
Kathleen Jones, a Waynesboro High sophomore, was surprised by the number of local jobs available.
“I think it’s good that students are able to look around and see what’s out there,” Kathleen said.
Kathleen said she plans to enter the Air Force and the ministry.
Seventeen-year-old James Buchanan High School sophomore Josh Sellers checked out his career options at Letterkenny Army Depot’s table.
“I take electrical at (Franklin County’s Career and Technology Center), and I want to continue doing that and do it by helping my country,” Josh said.
Attending the career expo helped Josh explore future job opportunities after high school.
“I think it (career expo) is a good idea, and it helps the students figure out what colleges they have and jobs are out there. I actually didn’t think there were that many jobs open, but coming here, I learned there were,” Josh said.
Sharon Bair, human resources representative for Manitowoc in Shady Grove, Pa., said the career expo showed students that there are jobs available in Franklin County.
“They have opportunities both professional and for skilled technical jobs. It’s a good idea to share job opportunities with students,” Bair said. “It’s also important to explain to the younger generation how important it is to have an education before they join the work force.”