MiCareerQuest Southeast will expose thousands of local high school students to in-demand careers

The first-ever MiCareerQuest Southeast, an offshoot of the successful MiCareerQuest event created by the West Michigan Works! Agency and first held in Grand Rapids in 2015, will take place on November 28, 2018, at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. It is being organized by the Oakland County Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs and Michigan Works! agencies throughout southeast Michigan. The Michigan Talent Investment Agency is the presenting sponsor.

At this event, 10,000 high school students from the greater Metro Detroit region will be exposed to in-demand careers in the biggest growth industries in Michigan, including advanced manufacturing, construction, health sciences, and information technology. These are highly in-demand careers that require skilled employees that employers are struggling to find, and lucrative career paths that students might not even know exist. 

Students will make their way through four separate “career quadrants” in two-hour blocks, during which time they will interact with working professionals in engaging, hands-on demonstrations. Students will have the opportunity to touch, feel, and work with actual workplace equipment, tools, and technology, as well as ask working professionals in those fields questions about their careers and what they need to do to get into them. MiCareerQuest Southeast will be the region’s largest hands-on career exploration experience.

To learn more about the event and what organizers hope to achieve with it, Oakland County Prosper checked in with Jennifer Llewellyn, manager of Oakland County Workforce Development and Oakland County Michigan Works! Here’s what she had to say.

(1) What is the underlying goal of MiCareerQuest?

The goal of MiCareerQuest Southeast is to expose 10,000 high school students to career opportunities in advanced manufacturing, health sciences, information technology, and construction through hands-on, interactive exhibits and the opportunity to directly engage with employers, labor organizations, professional organizations, and post-secondary educators.

(2) What do employers hope to achieve through participating in MiCareerQuest?

We hear from employers every day who express concern about the ability to attract new employees and identify a pipeline of talent. At MiCareerQuest Southeast, employers hope to engage directly with students and expose them to new and exciting career opportunities available now and in the years to come.

(3) What are the advantages for students who attend this event?

The high school students will have the opportunity to learn about a broad range of in-demand occupations by participating in hands-on demonstrations and speaking directly with working professionals. We want them to ask questions and learn more about careers that they may not know even existed.

(4) Why is an event like this important right now in our current job market?

It is projected that there will be more than 800,000 high-demand career openings through the year 2024 in our region. Exposing students to high-growth, high-wage, in-demand occupations at an earlier age will ultimately help generate the pipeline of talent needed to fill many of these jobs in the future. The relationship between K-12 and employers is growing stronger each year and MiCareerQuest Southeast is just one example of a collaborative effort to build such a pipeline of talent.

(5) How does MiCareerQuest get students excited about these potential career paths?

MiCareerQuest Southeast will get students excited about a number of jobs through hands-on, interactive learning opportunities. This event is different – it isn’t someone standing in front of them in a classroom telling them about an occupation or a booth at a career fair. Drawing fake blood from a mannequin’s arm to learn about phlebotomy, operating a machine to make a keychain, using construction equipment, or programming a computer generates excitement.

(6) What are these growth industries with long-term career potential?

The four industries to be showcased at MiCareerQuest Southeast– advanced manufacturing, health sciences, information technology, and construction – are the highest growth industries in southeast Michigan. In addition, these industries include many sub-groups – connected mobility, the energy industry, and medical devices, for example. We hope to expose the students to a large variety of high-demand occupations across these industries.

(7) How is this different than a job fair or recruitment event?

The intent of MiCareerQuest Southeast focuses on career awareness, engagement, and exposure, which is very different from a traditional job fair or hiring event. However, we anticipate some grassroots networking to take place between students and employers. Our hope is that internships and job shadowing opportunities emerge, partnerships between K-12 education providers and employers will be enhanced, and that students will identify future occupations of choice.

(8) Why is there a need for something like this in Southeast Michigan?

With a larger focus on career awareness earlier in life, career pathways, and creating a talent pipeline, MiCareerQuest Southeast is critical to supporting those efforts and helping retain those students in Southeast Michigan. The more we can connect students directly to careers, employment, and ALL of the options available to them, the better!

Schools can sign up to participate on a first-come, first-served basis beginning March 1. For more information, visit OakGov.com/MiCareerQuestSE or call Oakland County Michigan Works!, 248-858-5520.