Special School District, St. Louis County’s career and technical education provider for high school students, is partnering with Affton, Pattonville, and Rockwood school districts to host the St. Louis County Apprenticeship and Career Pathways Showcase. Three events will be held across the county, which will feature regional employers and apprenticeship representatives who are seeking new talent and are eager to meet with students in grades 6-12 and recent graduates.
The March 12 event is at South Tech High School from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“These events are designed to connect young people to pathways for future education and careers that may not involve traditional college,” Administrator of Partnerships for Special School District Sally Difani said. “There are multiple paths to success, and it is our obligation as educators to ensure we are spotlighting all of them for students.”
Emanuel Young, Partners in Education coordinator for Rockwood School District, agreed.
“The Career Pathways showcase is an opportunity for us to deliver on our strategic plan goal area of empowering all students to design personalized pathways for their future. Our parents overwhelmingly said they want a broad variety of post-secondary learning opportunities for their students and this event supports that,” he said.
Over the past decade, regional employers have been looking to career and technical education (CTE) programs to assist them in building their talent pipelines. As the skills gap became more evident in labor shortages across industries, companies like Ameren, Spire, and Boeing recognized the need to reintroduce the benefits of skilled trade careers to students. Each established mentoring programs with St. Louis County’s two technical high schools, North Tech and South Tech, and began actively recruiting students to begin employment with them immediately after graduation. The Home Builders Association, representing hundreds of construction companies across the region, began working with students and hosting networking events on each campus.
“So many young people don’t realize how much is out there – how many companies are ready to both educate and hire them into careers they may not have considered simply because they haven’t been exposed to them,” said Difani. “We hope these events will give them that opportunity.” Multiple career fields will be represented by vendors, including the St. Louis County Fire and Police Academies, World Wide Technology, Daugherty Business Solutions, the Sheet Metal Workers Union, and event sponsor the Independent Electrical Council (IEC), among others.
Kelly Hewitt, executive director of the IEC, was thrilled to support the events. “We believe in preparing the new workforce through apprenticeships that equip the students with the tools necessary for a successful and safe career. We chose to invest in this new workforce by sponsoring these events,” she said.