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COLDWATER, MI --

In years past, job training for young people came about in their daily lives, especially in the agricultural sector. The children would get up in the morning and do daily chores, go to school, and complete their day with additional work on the farm. Their educational experience occurred throughout the day leading them to continue family businesses.

Today, students are experiencing job training outside of the home and the schools with the options of On-The-Job-Training (OJT), Job Shadowing, and Work Experience programs. These opportunities are mostly available through vocational schools and career centers and expand beyond the traditional farms and classrooms.

In Coldwater, MI, the Branch Area Career Center (BACC) offers and coordinates each of the programs mentioned above. This educational facility is just one of many schools to present the students with these programs and an example of the options for both students and employers to work together and consider.

The OJT program provides the students with job experience along with financial security. The young people are allowed to find placement to a job that directly relates to the program they are enrolled in at the school. Within the BACC program, they will work from 13-31 hours a week and be paid over $7 an hour. The students continue to attend class at least one day a week in their chosen vocational program.

The Job Shadowing option allows the student time away from the classroom to learn about specific career choices and opportunities. Each of the 15 departments at BACC requires their students have a job shadowing as part of their curriculum. These experiences are between one to two days and are not a paying job.

Within the Work Experience, a student is involved because of their desire to learn more about their chosen field and begin training. The young person is not paid but receives a hands-on education that is worth much more than they could have earned. They are also graded for their efforts.

Cheyenne McCullough, 2016 BACC graduate, spent her senior year working for Shiery Animal Clinic in Camden, MI, through the Work Experience program. “I just love the work,” she said. “I work two days a week and earn credits for school.” The clinic works with both large and small animals, exposing McCullough to a variety of job skills and experiences.

She strongly encourages all high school students to try one of these programs. “It helps you narrow down your choices for study,” McCullough said. “You will find out what you like to do before going to college.” Because of her experiences, she has decided she enjoys the large animals more than the small and will pursue a major in Animal Science with a minor in Agricultural Business at Michigan State University.

These programs wouldn’t be available to the students without the willingness of the businesses and employers to offer their services and work with the young people. The schools are always in search of employment for the students, stretching their education from within the classroom to real world jobs and responsibilities.

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