Howard-Suamico connects with business leaders to discuss workforce
By Lea Kopke
GREEN BAY – The Howard-Suamico school board, administrators and community business leaders met for a linkage session before a board meeting last month at the Urban Hub in downtown Green Bay.
Conversations focused on the district’s Graduate Profile and how it can best prepare students for the workforce, along with how the district can help student mental wellness.
After listening to a presentation from the Greater Green Bay Chamber’s Kelly Armstrong and Lamarr Banks on business retention and expansion, the meeting broke up into discussion groups.
Mark Husen, the team facilitator of athletic training at Bellin Health, said adaptability is one of the most important traits a student can have.
Husen said Bellin Health had to lay off many of its sports medicine staff when school sports didn’t resume last year due to COVID-19.
He said some young people did well with it, and found gap jobs in retail or food service, while others failed to realize they may need to search for a job outside of sports medicine.
Husen also said some younger staff struggle with understanding what a 40-hour business workweek means, while his veteran staff understands they need to work until they have the job done.
“It’s trying to share with people, expect the unexpected, and how do you change your mindset of what do I need to do…” he said. “It’s not the fault of the school district… You can teach the information, but you can’t teach always that work ethic.”
Board member Scott Jandrin said many students don’t have their first job until they’re out of college, due to schedules filled with school, athletics and social life.
Husen said he believes the district should encourage students to do internships to help them better understand what work is like.
“They don’t need to be semester-long, it could even be over a break,” he said. “I’m shocked sometimes that, for instance, people go through so many years of nursing, go get their education and get a job before they realize they don’t like it.”
The group also discussed mental health and how the district can better support students.
Joe Malcore, the technology sales consultant at ACP CreativIT, said people often don’t know where to go when they’re struggling.
Malcore said it’s important to create awareness of what help is available.
“The big thing is people might want support in different ways,” he said. “Some might want support through technology, some might want to be in-person, but, just the diverse ways people want support now based on personality types.”
Husen said over the past few years mental health has become a large issue in each of the schools he works in.
He said he doesn’t believe a catch-all solution will be found anytime soon, in part because there are not enough mental health professionals available for districts to hire.
The group then discussed how important a person’s level of education is to employers.
Malcore said there’s not a clear career path for information technology and audio/visual fields, but his company typically looks at the students coming out of local technical colleges.
He said accreditations in software programs make applicants more attractive, including the micro-credentials people can mark off with assessments through LinkedIn.
Board member Greg Klimek said it is important students understand college isn’t necessary for a successful career.
“Just because you don’t fit in a classroom, that’s not your thing, doesn’t mean you won’t be a strong asset in life,” Klimek said. “I think the district has tried to work to give other options to kids.”
The meeting wrapped up with several business leaders commending the district for putting time and thought into students’ needs.
“I work with plenty of school districts,” Husen said. “I don’t see a lot of school districts bringing people together like this.”