Northeast Kingdom job fair aims to expand opportunities for high school students

A new event is helping to prepare NEK students for leaving the classroom and joining the workforce.
Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 5:38 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LYNDON, Vt. (WCAX) - A new event is helping to prepare Northeast Kingdom students for leaving the classroom and joining the workforce. Lyndon Institute and multiple other schools in the area are hosting the first NEK Career and Apprenticeship Fair next month, hoping to connect students to potential employers whether it be for summer jobs, internships, or opportunities after graduation.

“I just love it here, there’s a lot to do here. It’s a hard place to leave,” said Norman Shannon, a senior at Lyndon Institute and a CTE student who puts his skills to work as a mechanic. He’s looking forward to learning about more opportunities in the Kingdom.

He’ll have the chance to explore his options during the NEK career and apprenticeship fair on April 18th at the Fenton Chester Arena, April. The school is preparing to host more than 40 employers from Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York,

“If we can keep kids here and see that there are opportunities for good paying jobs and opportunities, to me, it’s a win-win,” said the institute’s Jeremy White.

Among the industries present will be construction, tree services, and health care. A $5,000 grant from the state is paying for the costs to get it started.

The fair is for all students, like freshman Jaylin Garrett, “I’m looking to see what an internship would look like and how you would do that during the school year,” Garrett said.

The school says building those relationships early is a crucial part of getting students to hit the ground running. “It’s a long-term relationship that comes from an internship. And you know, there is a strong community, the Northeast Kingdom really circles around their own,” said the institute’s Michelle Parson.

The Northeast Kingdom is in a unique situation when it comes to the labor market. Derby’s unemployment rate was 6.6% last month, the highest in the state. St. Johnsbury’s was 3.8%.

Vermont Department of Labor Commissioner Michael Harrington said the labor market is tighter in that region than in other parts of the state. “With an older population in the Northeast Kingdom, they have more folks from the baby boomer generation who are going to be aging out of the labor force,” he said.

That will give students like Shannon an opportunity to shine. “I haven’t decided on a college yet. But regardless, I want to be able to still work my job. So whatever I can do to make the most money is something that interests me. And helped me out in the future, what I want to do, even if I’m still going to school,” said Shannon.

For businesses looking to participate in the event, the deadline for registration is March 24.