(Courtesy Boys & Girls Club of Portage County)

YouthForce Job Fair was a hit, organizers say

By Patrick Lynn

The Boys & Girls Club of Portage County hosted its third annual YouthForce Job Fair and Career Showcase last week, and all accounts indicate that it was a hit.

The free event featured 48 businesses and organizations presenting job opportunities to over 175 teens and families. The fair welcomed teenagers from all backgrounds, with more than half of the attendees being first-time visitors to the Boys & Girls Club.

A survey conducted during the event revealed that 99 percent of respondents discovered new employers or job opportunities, 95 percent would recommend the fair to a friend, and 100 percent expressed interest in attending next year’s event.

Jeremy Higgins, Director of Workforce Development, emphasized the importance of the fair, saying, “One of our main objectives is to highlight the wide range of job prospects in central Wisconsin. It’s inspiring to witness the enthusiasm of participants as they interact with businesses and organizations. Whether they’re seeking part-time summer positions or exploring future career paths, this event demonstrates that they can pursue their interests locally.”

The job fair featured employer stations with prize opportunities, career information materials, on-the-spot interviews for summer positions, engaging activities, food, and virtual reality stations with various job simulations.

The Boys & Girls Club’s YouthForce workforce development initiative is supported by grants from Associated Bank and a Workforce Innovation Grant partnership with Mid-State Technical College and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

YouthForce programming is designed for all age groups served by the Boys & Girls Club, offering career exploration activities for younger children and employment opportunities for teens aged 14 and above through the Junior Staff program.

High school students can access services such as mentoring, career coaching, and job placement assistance.