Career exploration programming reaches 1,800 participants in 2015

Michigan 4-H Career Exploration programming helps youth learn about and explore opportunities to prepare for successful futures. It can even help them land a job!

Members participating in the 2015 Culinary Arts Program. Photo: Barry County 4-H.

Members participating in the 2015 Culinary Arts Program. Photo: Barry County 4-H.

Workshops, programs and events related to 4-H career exploration reached nearly 1,800 participants in 60 Michigan counties throughout 2015. Venues included in-school presentations, camps, Michigan State University Extension 4-H Exploration Days sessions, OsteoCHAMPS sessions and afterschool programs just to name a few. Almost 200 adults were trained to use 4-H career exploration curriculum with the goal to teach youth career exploration concepts and integrate career exploration education into their programming.

For the almost 1,600 young people that participated in career exploration-focused programming and events, outcomes focused on youth were:

  • Increased awareness of career and job opportunities related to his or her skills and interests.
  • Career or job goals enhanced through his or her programming experiences.
  • A plan for his or her future career or job goal.

As a result of participating in a 4-H career exploration program, 114 youth surveyed indicated the following:

  • 53.2 percent were more aware of the various careers available in fields that connected to their interests, skills and experiences.
  • 50 percent of youth increased awareness of knowing the specific education, skills and characteristics needed to be successful in a career they explored.
  • 49.2 percent of youth identified the steps necessary for them to reach their career goals.

In Barry County, the Culinary Arts Program lead to employment for one participant. Five years ago, a Culinary Arts Program was launched in partnership with a local chef/restaurant owner. This past year, the advanced participants served as mentors for the new participants. As always, dinner was a big success, the food was beyond wonderful and the participants made the Barry County 4-H Program shine in the eyes of the public. Later in the summer, the advanced participant who assisted with the class applied for a job at the Seasonal Grille, fully expecting if hired to start as a dish washer. She was hired, and not as a dish washer; the majority of the time she is on the line working on food preparation for the restaurant or a catering event. 

For those participants who stay with this program multiple years, this is more than just a lesson in food preparation and nutrition. It is very much a career preparation course giving youth enough basic experience in the restaurant business that they can get a job to support themselves wherever life takes them.

According to the Michigan Career Technical Education Snapshot for 2015, “Middle-skill jobs account for 54 percent of Michigan’s labor market, but only 49 percent of workers in Michigan possess the required skills, leading to a skills gap.” By 2018, “About 59 percent of all jobs in Michigan will require some education and training beyond high school.” To learn more about how Michigan 4-H is helping young people learn about and explore opportunities for the future, read Preparing Michigan Youth for Future Careers and Employment. 

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