Some day students currently enrolled in local schools are going to need a job.

Some day area businesses and industries are going to need people to fill a significant number of job openings.

The question is how does one bring those two together to help students find jobs they enjoy and that can provide a good quality of life and to make sure the local economy continues to thrive? 

An entity known as Technology and Trades on the Prairie believes it is offering one tool to help through a new event called the Career Institute. Held July 18-20 in Morgan, the Career Institute brought students from all over the region to the community to learn about different job opportunities in agriculture, industry, health, communications and technology.

During those three days, the students were offered hands-on learning opportunities in various fields from welding to emergency medical services.

Simulation labs, had students diagnosing patients, helping give birth to babies, planting and checking out the latest technology all in an effort to expose them to unique career opportunities they may not have considered.

During the afternoon of July 19, a simulation lab from Ridgewater College provided the opportunity for students to work with a high-tech “dummy” that Brian Ehlenbach, a paramedic instructor at Ridgewater, said can be used to better simulate what emergency medical responders, emergency medical technicians and paramedics might actually see at the scene of an emergency.

Ehlenbach said in the field of emergency services, one can be involved full time as a paramedic or an EMT, or one can offer services as a responder as a second job.

“People in small communities would love to have you as emergency medical responders,” Ehlenbach said, adding many people who serve in that role have a career in one area and serve as responders in their communities when the need arises.

He added in larger companies, there are also people who serve in these responder roles to help in times of crisis.

As a paramedic himself, Ehlenbach said he not only enjoys the excitement of being part of an emergency scene and knowing he is helping save lives, but he also appreciates the opportunity he has to teach others to perform in those emergency situations.

While one group of students was “saving lives,” another was inside a Central Lakes College trailer learning about hydroponics and aquaponics and the opportunities in that growing area.

Each student had a chance to plant something in elements other than traditional soil to see how plants can still grow in alternate environments.

A third group was in a conference room at Harvest Land Cooperative learning about mechatronics. Learning about computer systems and the latest trends in manufacturing and mechanics opened the eyes of the students as they discovered how much of what they were learning about is already being used in area industries.

In addition to learning about job options, the participants also were able to learn a little about themselves and their areas of interest and ability. Through what is known as a predictive index, Scott Adams of Harvest Land, guided students to see what options may be available for them.

“You need to ask yourself does the career I want to do make sense based on my predictive index,” said Adams.

According to Loran Kaardal and Pauline Nickel, two of the Technology and Trades on the Prairie board members who helped to develop the Career Institute the program, which was in its first year, the program has the potential to meet the vision of helping young people in the region to find what careers fit them best and how they can do those things right here.

Yes, there are opportunities to improve on the Career Institute as it was piloted this year, and the hope is that it continues to grow as more and more students seek out tools that help them make what is one of the most important decisions of their lives.