Journal Opinion: Navigators Program Kicks Off

This month, we at The Business Journal launched our Brain Gain Navigators program that exposes area students to some popular career paths, as well as those they may never have considered.

For most young people, dream jobs typically are based on what they’re exposed to. Maybe it’s their parents or their grandparents’ occupations, or someone in the community or on TV – a police officer, firefighter, doctor, teacher or professional athlete. But what about auto technicians? A bailiff or probation officer? A press operator or a medical assistant?

These occupations provide gainful employment and meaningful, rewarding work. And they are plentiful in the Mahoning and Shenango valleys. What’s more, employers are counting on the next-generation of workers to fill these jobs.

Brain Gain Navigators shows young people what various jobs entail and gives them the opportunity to hear from people who do the daily work. We know from our Brain Gain series of discussions last year with young people that, all things considered, most would gladly stay here if there is opportunity. And there is.

While career exploration tours are not a novel concept, the pandemic restricts us, for now, from holding in-person tours. That’s why we turned to a virtual alternative. By partnering with Junior Achievement of Mahoning Valley and its JA Inspire Virtual platform, we are bringing the tours to the students.

Brain Gain Navigators began with a look at the auto tech field where attendees heard from employees at Sweeney Chevrolet, as well as from students at the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center who are training to follow that career path.

Our program also focused this month on legal careers and introduced students to Youngstown Municipal Court Judge Carla Baldwin, who shared her professional experiences as a judge and prosecutor. While “judge” and “lawyer” are what young people might initially dream about when considering a career in law, the program also introduced students to the court’s chief bailiff and probation officer, demonstrating there are many options in the legal field.

That particular virtual tour drew some 300 registrations and we expect that number to increase for upcoming tours at Southwoods Health, Farmers National Bank, Hynes Industries and the Hope Center for Cancer Care.

We are excited to showcase growing local employers and the opportunities they provide. And we are grateful to collaborate with the Boys and Girls Clubs, YWCA Mahoning Valley, the United Way, the Mahoning Valley Young Women’s Mentorship group, Inspiring Minds and the Mahoning County Educational Service Center.

Now we invite you to get involved. Go to the Brain Gain page on our website and click the Navigators link. Register your kids. Help register your grandkids. Let’s show the next generation all the options right here for them to live, work and thrive.