Meeting the challenges of our local Humboldt County job market has always been a strength of the Humboldt County Office of Education (HCOE). It’s part of what has drawn me to the organization. Through its ongoing programs led by experts and educators, many successful partnerships have been nurtured over the years. As a communications professional, I’ve paid particular attention to academic and vocational programs offered by the local high schools. As a high school senior in the late 1970s, I had to choose a career path beginning with higher education or vocational training. Back then, I remember the Humboldt Regional Occupation Program as being the main local program as an alternative to higher education, although the choices in HROP were limited then.
I opted to participate in a little of both. After receiving vocational training through Arcata High School’s community radio program and station, KAHS, I opted to attend Humboldt State University to pursue a journalism career. A year into my studies at HSU, I received the chance to be news director at Crescent City radio station, KCRE. That opportunity led my career into all aspects of the radio business. Later, I chose to move into marketing and advertising. I was fortunate to have the choice to take advantage of acquired connections through my education and vocational training to make me a “professional” in several fields.
Today, graduating high school seniors are fortunate to have many more resources through their local high schools, and through HCOE’s Education At Work initiative. Effective programs like the Trades Academy fit nicely under HCOE’s Education at Work umbrella, and provide interested students with many different career paths than there were in the late ’70s. Now there are partnerships with schools, mentors and local business professionals who have strengthened the programs. The choices for students who participate in the HCOE Trades Academy range from careers in medical and healthcare to work in local vocational industries including agriculture, forestry and construction. The Trades Academy at HCOE is fortunate to have partnered with important local businesses, all with the goal of producing a local workforce from local people for the greater good in this community.
HCOE’s Education at Work initiative offers North Coast employers the chance to help themselves develop a ready, willing and capable workforce. By actively supporting local high school Career Technical Education programs, students can bridge the connection of what’s taught in the classroom to complement real work experiences. That’s a real alternative choice students can make when they’re deciding to attend a college or university, or to choose a career in the trades.
The opportunities for graduating seniors who want to pursue a career are at their best now. HCOE’s Education at Work programs are always looking for local trades-related businesses to get involved with the work they do. If you’re a local business in search of a more-productive workforce, or a student looking to start out on a vocational career path, I encourage you to dig deeper in to the resource you can find right here in Humboldt County through your local County Office of Education’s Education at Work, career technical education programs. It’s really like investing in our future.
Ken Conlin is the Communications Center Manager at the Humboldt County Office of Education. His professional background includes operating North Coast Advertising Agency for the past 25 years, and has worked in local radio. He also currently owns and manages Eureka-based Internet radio station Humboldt 101.