A boost for grads, industry

Program helps high school graduates land CTE careers in Douglas County

A local job preparation program is helping high school graduates land careers with technical businesses in Douglas County.

The South Coast Business Employment Corporation helps promote local businesses in Douglas County. With the help of funding through the Department of Labor and the Southwestern Oregon Workforce Investment Board, they are providing a free, eight-week training program for local, upcoming high school graduates to help them find high-wage, technical careers in the community.

The program starts the trainees at $17-plus an hour with full benefits. They will be interviewed by local employers, and if selected will be offered employment upon completion of the program. The program will prepare trainees for entry-level positions in the manufacturing field, which is a starting point for those who may be interested in future apprenticeship opportunities in the electrician, millwright and machinist fields.

Local wood product manufactures are working with the South Coast Business Employment Corporation to offer living-wage jobs to high school graduates.

Swanson Group Corporate Recruiter Jimmy Swanson says the program will help high school graduates not just land jobs, but start them off making good money that is drastically higher than minimum wage. 

“With this (program), kids won’t have to start off seven or eight bucks an hour,” Swanson said. You can come out of high school right off the bat making a living wage.”

Swanson also mentions it’s a great opportunity to stimulate the local economy by keeping high school graduates in Douglas County and eliminating the myth that they have to go to college, or move to higher-populated areas for better-paying careers. “Not everyone wants $90-$100k in student debt,” Swanson said. “There are careers right here in our backyard. We offer internships, apprenticeships; you can work your way up through the mill or go through an electrical apprenticeship. We want kids to know that they don’t have to leave this area to get good-paying jobs.”

The program also teaches the graduates work traits that are expected to become an exceptional employee in technical careers.

“It helps with how to work as a team, how to work as a collaborative, the importance of showing up to work on time and finishing your projects,” Swanson said. “They’re learning how to enter the workforce and what’s expected from employers.”

Other local companies that are partnering with this program are Roseburg Forest Products and C&D Lumber.

For more information on the program, head over to the Made in Douglas website.

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