JMG Student with trophy at Career Development Conference
By Ramona du Houx
Every year at the Jobs for Maine Graduates (JMG) Career Develop Conference, a long list of students are called onto stage to receive college scholarships. This year, the spotlight was also on JMG highschool-seniors who are just as motivated to succeed, but are looking for a different path to follow.
More than 500 seniors and select juniors took over the entire Augusta Civic Center for JMG’s annual CDC – a day to celebrate their upcoming graduations and prove they’re ready for life after high school. Students participated in workshops and tested their mettle in a variety of career-related competitions. They pitched their own business plans, faced the fear of public-speaking, and in mock job interviews, did their best to convince Thomas College representatives that they are ready for hire.
“I thought it was great,” said Ebonyi Robbins is a senior at Gardiner Area High School. She participated in the Destination Vocation workshop at the conference. which focused on a variety of training-to-work programs that lead well-paying careers. “I had no idea the CareerCenters provided so much support. I mean, if you’re involved in a training program, they can help you with housing, college classes, they’ll even help you pay for Driver’s Ed.”
Just down the road at the State House lawmakers continue to debate a bill that would continue to help fund JMG. The program- promoted by Gov. Angus King and Gov. John Baldacci- gives teens pathways to succeed in life. Many have said JMG programs should and could be more intergrated within high schools as they prepare students with lifelong skills.
“College is a great pathway, but it’s only one. Maine has training programs for welders, plumbers, electricians and waste water and purification careers. And, the career preparation skills JMG teaches, like problem-solving and time management, are skills every employer is looking for,” said Tom Bahun, of the Maine Rural Water Association was a panelist for the Destination Vocation workshop.
JMG is a statewide, private nonprofit working with students who face barriers to education. JMG provides 5,000 students a year with the skills and experience they will need to succeed in high school, post- secondary education, and careers. JMG graduates become engaging members of their communities, productive adults in the workforce, and contributors to Maine's economy.
“Investing in JMG just makes sense. We get some great employees from their student population, and we send people into their classrooms to talk about the industry and what it takes to be a valued employee. Kids who’ve been in JMG are more out-going; they have a better handle on their future, and know how important it is to build a network. It’s a great partnership,” said Bob Moody, a manager at E.J. Prescott.