Aspire recently held its first virtual field trip as part of its continuing effort to introduce high school students to jobs available with area companies. Greenwood Community High School students made a Zoom visit to Milwaukee Tool to learn about employees who work at different jobs to help make the facility run.
“Local company leadership walked around the repair technician area, talking with employees and providing information on how the facility runs,” explained Amanda Rubadue, CEcD, Aspire vice president of economic development. “They provided the students with background on the company, what the facility does and the types of tools they repair. Several employees did interviews on-camera talking about what they do, how they got there, the company culture and the training they receive.”
The virtual field trip was the latest in a series of efforts by Aspire in its K-14 workforce pipeline initiative, Rubadue said, noting, “It allows us to creatively get our companies into the classroom.”
She added, “It allows students the opportunity to go into a business they wouldn’t normally get to see, ask questions of the employees, and get a better idea of jobs that are available in their backyard.”
The class was led by Madeleine C. Waters, Business Department chair at the school, who noted, “Virtual tours have given my students the opportunity to learn about local employers and the various positions for which they hire and also the opportunity to actually see the facility, allowing them to envision themselves in that work environment. If we want our students to succeed in life after high school, we must help give them a vision of what that post-secondary/post-collegiate experience will look like, and virtual tours have helped do just that.”
“From the corporate and hiring perspective, doing virtual tours puts you on the map when it comes to building a pipeline of candidates,” Waters added. “My students will always remember their recent virtual tour with Milwaukee Tool as the employees they met genuinely appeared to love their jobs – and that made an impact on my students that they will remember when applying for jobs.”
Leading the tour was Plant Manager Anna McDermott, who also helped organize the visit. “It’s important we get to connect with high school students because we want to change the perception of production jobs and to let them know that going into the workforce right after high school is another GREAT path that they should consider.”
“At Milwaukee, we value our employees with competitive wages and benefits, an unmatched culture, a brand-new facility, an on-site full fitness center, educational assistance should they choose to go to college and many more. Most high school graduates do not always know what they want to do after they graduate (myself included!). This option is a great first step to help figuring that out while still having a respectable and well-paid job without having to take on any student-loan debt.”
Why is Aspire doing this? “These virtual field trips are just another opportunity for our businesses to get in front of students to showcase the types of jobs that are available,” Rubadue responded. “We’re always looking for creative ways to connect our Johnson County businesses to their future workforce, and the virtual option allows us to bypass some of the logistical challenges that can come with an on-site field trip. We’ll continue to organize in-person options as well, but this is another device in our workforce pipeline tool bag.” She added that a large part of Aspire’s five-year strategic economic development plan is equipping a workforce that will stay in Johnson County and strengthen it at all levels.
“Aspire will continue to host these types of Zoom field trips in as many businesses that are willing and classroom time that is available,” Rubadue concluded. Persons interested in having their company participate in a Zoom field trip may contact her at arubadue@AspireJohnsonCounty.com or 317-537-0037.