JA Inspire Connects Area Companies to Future Workforce

As many businesses struggle to fill open positions, Junior Achievement of Northwestern Ohio is rolling out a new event this spring to help young people connect with the diverse industries that drive the region’s economy. 

On May 11, JA Inspire will bring thousands of middle and high school students to downtown Toledo to participate in a day of career exploration and discovery. More than 50 companies are expected to participate in the event, which is presented by Mercy Health.

“This is an opportunity for us to help connect kids to the needs of the community and to help them find their pathway to success for the future,” said Bob Baxter, president of Mercy Health, in a video previewing the event. 

JA Inspire will bring thousands of middle and high school students to downtown Toledo to participate in a day of hands-on career exploration.

“We are creating an event that will provide experiential, hands-on learning opportunities for students to engage with business partners in our community so they can see and better understand all of the opportunities that are available in our region and be able to connect with those companies that have those future opportunities,” added Jim Pollock, president of JA of Northwest Ohio.

JA Inspire will present a broad spectrum of careers, from skilled trades to those that require college degrees.

Creating a vision of future success

JA is the nation’s largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their futures, and make smart academic and economic choices. The organization is perhaps best known for its youth educational programs in financial literacy, work and career readiness and entrepreneurship.

JA Inspire will present a broad spectrum of careers, from skilled trades to those that require college degrees. Vendors are divided into eight categories: 

  • Advanced Manufacturing, Engineering & Logistics
  • Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources
  • Architecture, Engineering & Construction
  • Business & Finance
  • Government, Law & Public Service
  • Hospitality & Tourism
  • Technology
  • Healthcare

“We see a lot of students graduating from high school without a defined career path and without a vision of future success, and we’re trying to change that,” explained Julia Simon, learning experience and event coordinator for Junior Achievement of Northwestern Ohio. “We really want students to have the opportunity to make decisions earlier about what they want to do.”

While this event is new to Northwest Ohio, Simon said other JA offices around the country have seen success hosting similar events. With many companies struggling to hire enough workers in recent years, “we thought this would be a great opportunity to expose students to the opportunities right here in northwest Ohio, to stay in the area and continue to build that economic pipeline,” said Simon. 

Building industry awareness 

For businesses, participation includes both immediate and long-term benefits, Simon added. They have the opportunity to recruit high school juniors and seniors for shadowing experiences, internships or entry level positions, while also building awareness of their industries among younger students to help develop their talent pipeline.

Simon said companies can still sign up to participate through May 1. 

The event at Seagate Center is free to attend for students in grades 8-12, but schools planning to visit are asked to register ahead of time by April 22. School groups from across northwest Ohio will participate in JA Inspire from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Youth who do not attend with a school group, college students or anyone else looking for a career may also attend from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Advance registration is requested.

For more event information, visit www.jainspirenwo.org.

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