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New program launching careers for high school students

Posted at 8:08 AM, Mar 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-06 09:08:45-05

SAND SPRINGS, Okla. — A new program in Sand Springs is giving students a jump-start into the workforce and is becoming a win-win for students and the community.

School officials at Charles Page High School said about 30 percent of their students will head off to college, and 70 percent will go straight into the workforce.

Kaden Parker is a high school senior at Charles Page High School in the mornings. But in the afternoons, he’s practically an employee at Webco Industries, North America’s foremost provider of metal tubing products.

Parker explained, “First, we had to sign up through the email, saying we want to do an interview with Webco. Webco came to our school, interviewed about eight kids and picked two kids.”

He is one of 163 students interning this semester through a program that partners high school students with about 60 local businesses.

Michelle Spears, internship coordinator, said, “The company will contact us and tell us what they’re looking for. Then, we go straight to the counselors and we say, ‘This is what we need. What kids would be great for this?’”

In Webco’s case, representatives from the company spoke to students at the school, gave students tours of the facility and did interviews with the interested students.

Parker admitted, “It was a little different. I was nervous, at first. But I did a class last semester in sixth and seventh hour called ‘Skills to Grow.’ It taught us how to do an interview, skills in the workforce, safety. We got our OSHA 10 card from that class. We got a CPR card.”

Webco Talent Systems Manager Shelly Shoemaker said. “At Webco, for our entry level positions, we provide all the training. Pretty much, a high school graduate is what we’re looking for as an employee . . . We set up our program so that they got a taste of every job in the plant . . . Every week in the process, they work a different position within the plant.”

She went on, “What we get out of the deal is we get great candidates that we’ve already kind of vetted and been able to see their work ethic, and then we end up with an employee who is part of the community. They get the full-time job. They get to be paid; they get to reinvest their money, their time and their life back into the community as well.”

Parker said he didn’t have a plan until the opportunity at Webco came along. He said, “It takes the stress off, honestly, because I don’t have to stress where I need to go after high school.”

Shoemaker explained, “They get to decide, in a few months, is this what they want to do? Is standing on their feet all day, working with their hands part of their future? And sometimes, that does not end up being what they want to do and maybe that does make them re-evaluate the idea of college.”

She went on, “Or it tells them, ‘I don’t want to spend time in college that I’m not going to use and spend that money when I have great opportunities for a career in my own hometown.”

The students also get high school credit for their internship.

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