Youth gain real-life experiences on the job

Feb. 2 of each year is commonly known as Groundhog Day. That same day is also recognized as National Job Shadow Day by businesses across the U.S. (This year’s Groundhog Day fell on a Saturday, so the event was held the following Monday.) Why? More than 10 years ago former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell created National Job Shadow Day with these objectives:

1) Increase the high school graduation rate.

2) Motivate youth to stay in school and get their high school diploma.

3) Encourage students to enroll in college.

4) Connect the business community and the education community to develop the future workforce.

For the third year Workforce Connections partnered with the Clark County School District Community Partnership Program to host the event. In preparation, business owners suggested engaging youth at earlier ages, focusing on “soft skills” training and providing more hands-on experience for job prospects.

To the end of a more meaningful experience for business partners as well as students, Workforce Connections expanded this year’s Job Shadow Day to include all high school grades rather than just seniors. On Feb. 4, 346 students got the chance to “view their future” and talk to industry professionals about the necessary skills needed to work in a variety of industries.

Consistent with the Nevada economic development office’s plan for economic growth and diversification, National Job Shadow Day focused opportunities based on eight business sectors . These sectors not only leverage Nevada’s strengths, but also have the highest potential to restore growth and jobs, and to spawn innovation in core or emerging sectors.

The eight sectors are tourism, gaming and entertainment ; health care and medical; aerospace and defense; manufacturing; mining and materials; clean energy ; business IT ecosystems; and logistics and operations. Most recently agriculture was added to the sectors.

Program specialist Byron Goynes, business services division of Workforce Connections, said, “It makes sense that we take students into industries where we know the jobs will be. Input from meetings of the state’s workforce sector councils and feedback from business owners about what they want from the next generation workforce helped in the alignment of this event.”

More than 10 businesses opened their doors and welcomed the students on National Job Shadow Day. CEOs, human resources managers, health care professionals, military officers, IT professionals and their staffs served as greeting committees when students arrived.

Tourism, Gaming and Entertainment and Clean Energy Sector

At the Bellagio, students from Desert Rose High School shared in round-table discussions with Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Mike Longi and his executive staff. The insight to nongaming careers and the soft skills needed today provided students with a “heads-up” on how to apply for jobs in the gaming and hospitality industry.

MGM Resorts International also hosted students at Mandalay Bay and the MGM Grand.

Business IT Ecosystems

Mojave High School students enjoy hands-on activities with Linda Montgomery, owner of The Learning Center.

Logistics and Operations

Part of the activities at the Bureau of Reclamation in Boulder City included a tour of the Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program. The partner school was Western High School, a science, technology, engineering and math school.

Staff members took nine seniors to the Clark County Wetlands Park Nature Center and Mitigation Ponds to learn about wetland habitat restoration and wildlife identification.

Aerospace and Defense and Logistics and Operations

Creech Air Force Base is home to the 432nd Wing, which has six operational squadrons, one maintenance squadron, and employs MQ-9 Reapers and MQ-1 Predator remotely piloted aircraft. This Air Force base is central to the ongoing global war on terrorism .

Legacy High School students with interest in aerospace and defense toured the base with military officers and support personnel who provided specifics on military career opportunities. One-on-one time was available for students with skills and career aspirations in engineering (aerospace, electrical, civil, computer/software, mechanical) and law (judge advocate general).

Manufacturing and Logistics and Operations

Tronox in Henderson welcomed students from West Preparatory Academy. The plant produces electrolytic manganese dioxide, used in the manufacture of alkaline batteries; elemental boron, a component of automotive safety igniters; and boron trichloride, used in the pharmaceutical and semiconductor industries and in the manufacture of high-strength boron fibers for products such as sporting equipment and aircraft parts.

Students learned about careers in the manufacturing industry and the value chemical manufacturing has in the economy.

Health care and Medical

Students from the Foothill High School spent the day at Health South Desert Canyon Rehabilitation Hospital. The students took part in hands-on demonstrations of various rehabilitation equipment used to return patients to leading active, independent lives.

Health South Desert Canyon Rehabilitation Hospital is a 50-bed inpatient rehabilitation hospital that provides a higher level of comprehensive rehabilitation services. Students were able to use the type of machine used by the late actor Christopher Reeve, who was paralyzed during a riding accident.

Benefits of National Job Shadow Day

Organizations know that investing the time in National Job Shadow Day will help shape the next generation workforce. Students had the opportunity to explore career options and had meaningful first hand discussions with employers regarding the importance of staying in school and getting a high school diploma.

Participating organizations included the Interior Department’s Bureau of Reclamation , Creech Air Force Base, HealthSouth Desert Canyon Rehabilitation Hospital, MGM Resorts International, Olin Chlor Alkali, The Learning Center, Timet and Tronox.

High school graduation rates in Nevada rank among the lowest in the nation. There is a correlation between meaningful work experiences and graduation from high school.

Workforce Connections Youth Department strives to help increase Nevada’s high school graduation rate. When it connects young people to the workplace at an early age, the students understand the relevance of what they are learning in school to their future career choices.

Participating high schools included Cheyenne High School, Desert Rose High School, Foothill High School, Legacy High School, Miley Achievement Academy, Mojave High School, West Preparatory Academy and Western High School.

Shadowing someone on the job can be an academically motivating activity that gives students the unique opportunity for an up close look at the world of work and provides an answer to students commonly asked question: “Why do I have to learn this?”

How do we do it?

Workforce Connections, a Labor Department -funded workforce investment board, supports communitywide awareness on the importance of graduating high school and works with the business community to provide meaningful work experiences, such as job shadow experiences, mentoring, unpaid internships and paid internships

Job Shadows provide students an opportunity for an up-close look at the world of work. The program allows students to see how the skills learned in school relate to the workplace and gives them a view of what their future can be. If they can see it, they can be it.

A paid or unpaid internship for six to eight weeks in the summer encourages students to stay in school and strive for postsecondary success by giving them hands-on exposure to fields of interest. Students who are exposed to a professional environment make the correlation between education and their future.

According to Michael Whelihan, manager of Spring Mountain Youth Camp, the cost reality comparison (eight weeks juvenile justice system vs. eight weeks summer internship) is enlightening:

n The cost for housing a youth in the juvenile justice system is $2,000 per week. Eight weeks is $16,000

n The cost for providing a youth with a summer internship is $219 per week. Eight weeks is $1,752

What is in it for the business community?

Mentoring students today helps shape the workforce of tomorrow. Sharing real work experience and knowledge can instill a sense of confidence, usefulness, and belonging in youth who are looking for advice in making sound educational decisions and preparing for their future careers. How?

n Businesses receive recognition as someone who cares about the future of Nevada.

n Businesses provide opportunities for youth from a wide range of backgrounds.

n Businesses make an impact on the future leaders of our community.

n Businesses have the privilege of “paying it forward.”

What is the economic Effect?

As reported by Nevada Public Education Foundation, an estimated 23,900 students in Nevada dropped out from the class of 2010. Cutting that number in half would result in tremendous economic benefits to the state.

n $107 million in increased earnings.

n $78 million in increased spending.

n $30 million in increased investments.

n $299 million in increased home sales.

n $13 million in increased auto sales.

n $7.8 million in increased tax revenue.

n $131 million in economic growth based on 700 new jobs.

Workforce Connections’ mission is to establish dynamic partnerships with employers and the community, and to connect employment opportunities, education and job training. To that end, National Job Shadow Day connects students with opportunities that many students never dreamed they could achieve.

Since 2010 more than 5,500 students have participated in National Job Shadow Day. In collaboration with its funded providers, Workforce Connections continues to provide quality youth programs designed to provide work readiness skills training and support services needed to ensure that the youth of Southern Nevada have all the necessary tools to needed to be part of a well trained and educated workforce.

What did industry professionals say about the 2013 National Job Shadow Day in Clark County?


“All of the students were actively engaged in the activities.” — Nathan Lenon, a Bureau of Reclamation biologist


“I wanted to thank you for helping to make National Job Shadow Day such a great event for Tronox. The students were very well mannered and attentive and it was such a pleasure to meet and talk with them. It’s a lot of fun to be able to show off our plant and our employees enjoyed the opportunity to speak about our company and, in particular, to share some of their experiences. I think many of the students were surprised to learn of the variety of career opportunities available locally in manufacturing.” — Tommi Ann Bryan,Tronox human resources representative


“It was a wonderful day and a great success! Our students had a rare experience to learn about and explore some of the opportunities that await them.  Your agency shared the collective experience and knowledge about careers that interest them, some of which were not known to the kids before yesterday.” — Amy O’Brien, mathematics teacher, Western High School


Powell said “When more than 1 million students a year drop out of high school, it’s more than a problem, it’s a catastrophe. Our economic and national security are at risk when we fail to educate the leaders and the workforce of the future.”

To learn more about Workforce Connections youth and workforce development programs, visit Follow the quick links “Funded Partner List” and then click on “Youth.” Workforce Connections is located at 7251 W. Lake Mead Blvd . Contact a member of the staff at 702-638-8750.

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