Van Wert Health CEO Jim Pope spoke about the opportunities that the Career Education Opportunity (CEO) Program provides students. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
Nearly 70 students and their parents gathered at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center Wednesday evening to celebrate the kick-off of the fourth year of the Career Education Opportunity (CEO) Program. The program, which orientated at Van Wert High School, allows Van Wert, Lincolnview, and Crestview seniors the chance to try out a career for high school credit.
During Wednesday's program, CEO of Van Wert Health Jim Pope spoke to the students about the benefits of utilizing the program. He said the program is great for students who want to test out a job without spending time and money going to college only to potentially realize that a particular job isn't for them.
Pope provided an antidote of his experiences out of high school when he had gone to college to be a doctor but realized that the work wasn't for him.
"One of the things I learned when I started working in health care is that I love health care and I wanted to stay working in health care but I realized I wasn't going to be a good doctor," said Pope who had switched his major in college. "As you think about the program, it may be helping you learn what you don't want to do and that is a good thing; that is a wonderful learning experience."
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person will change careers 5-7 times during their working life and will have 12-15 different jobs in their lifetime. This number has increased over the past 10 years and is expected to continue to increase.
"[This] is about learning the process of what I want to do and what I don't want to do," said Pope. "I would have loved to have something like this when I was back in high school."
Van Wert Health became involved during the second year of the CEO Program and will have 12 students this semester learning various jobs at their facilities. Pope explained that the program also allows students to see the different types of jobs that are needed at each local business and he noted that robotics is a growing field in health care.
Van Wert Career Counselor Kerry Koontz said the program began when he started thinking about how schools can better serve students and meet the needs of area businesses. According to statistics, Van Wert is set to have a boom in individuals retiring and will need to fill the gap with incoming workers. By utilizing the program, students are able to learn hands-on from employers where they may not have that opportunity in a classroom. The program also allows Van Wert County students the opportunity to learn what jobs are available in the area.
In order to participate in the program, students are required to fill out an application and submit a resume to potential employers. Students then go through an interview process with employers they are interested in working with. Students and parents are also required to sign a contract regarding the program that sets certain standards and expectations.
The CEO program is a semester-based program where students spend around two class periods each day at businesses learning about a career. Some students are paid while others are not depending on what the businesses decide.
Each year the program has had more students and businesses participate. The first year, 2016-2017, 17 students and 13 businesses participated in the CEO Program. That number has grown to 67 students this year and 43 business partners, with more expected to join in the second semester.
Original article courtesy of the Times Bulletin