WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The relationship between the school community and the business community was on full display Tuesday, as the School District of Palm Beach County and Palm Beach County Business Development Board held their annual "Claim Your Future Showcase" at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.
Students learned more about local companies and career paths.
Lake Worth High School student Carlos Gutierrez was feeling inspired after visiting with potential employers at the event.
"My biggest takeaway is go out there and get it," he said. "What I learned is Palm Beach County has a lot to offer and the Business Development Board has been an amazing experience to get access to all those opportunities."
More than one thousand high school students from across Palm Beach County participated in the event, networking with college and workforce representatives.
"This connection between employers and high school students is absolutely critical," Kelly Smallridge, CEO of the Business Development Board, said.
She said the businesses at the event represent growing industries that are looking to our schools to fill needed jobs.
"The goal is to say you don't need to leave Palm Beach County, there are great jobs in aviation aerospace, business financial, technology, life science, biotech, healthcare, corporate headquarters, logistics and the list goes on," Smallridge said. "The number one issue is whether or not they (businesses) can attract a workforce and so we believe this is an excellent way of telling students in our high school that there are jobs at all levels of their education, and they don't need to go to New York or Chicago or Boston to get that job, they can get them here."
In addition to mingling with business leaders, students also had a workshop on financial literacy and soft skills that employers are really looking for in future employees.
"CareerSource is doing all the research to see where the jobs are going to be, so we try to tailor our programs to meet those demands and the Business Development Board is constantly recruiting new businesses to Palm Beach County," Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent Mike Burke said. "In order to bring those businesses to Palm Beach County, that's one of their first questions— the state of the schools, is it going to meet the needs of their workforce."
Students talked to representatives from health care companies, Amazon, the Kravis Center, colleges, the marine industry and other organizations and businesses.
"I feel really grateful to have this opportunity," Dreyfoos School of the Arts student Scarlett Huang said. "I'm finding out about a lot of the different businesses out here and a lot of things they offer like internships and programs."
"I'm hoping to learn the careers that could come from cybersecurity and engineering, just to see what my chances are and stuff like that," Justin Dixon, a cybersecurity student at Palm Beach Central High School, said.
Fellow Palm Beach Central student Bryan Hall was also eager to talk to business leaders.
"I'm hoping aviation is here to see if I can find a career path there," Hall said. "I think it's very good to show the options of what's out there for high school students."