ELLSWORTH — Do you have a bored middle-schooler (or soon-to-be-middle-schooler) on your hands? Hancock County Technical Center (HCTC) wants to help you out with that.
The center is hosting its first Career Exploration Middle School Summer Camp from Monday, Aug. 19, through Friday, Aug. 23, for all Hancock County students entering grades 6 through 8.
“I want to show middle school kids that there are really wonderful viable jobs in our local communities that kids can learn about and be trained for while they’re still in high school and have a viable career path and stay local afterwards,” said HCTC Director Amy Boles.
“We’re doing hands-on activities at HCTC but we’re also going to be bringing kids into the community,” Boles said.
“Kids are going to learn about hospitality, travel, tourism and careers in that industry, culinary arts … Bar Harbor Bank & Trust is going to do financial literacy and career information.”
There will also be hands-on activities in the field of medicine, including emergency medical services, firefighting, law enforcement, diesel engines and welding, among others.
“We’re going to expose them to all the different careers that are out there,” Boles said.
The week will be capped with a visit to Eastern Maine Community College, said Boles, so “they’ll see the postsecondary tie-in too.”
Boles said recent legislation has required increased programming for career and technical education for middle-school students, but that the camp is also designed to help the local business community.
It is part of a statewide push for increased focus and funding on career and technical education schools as Maine struggles to deal with the growing effects of a labor shortage and aging workforce.
Also part of those efforts are the recent approval by city councilors of $150,000 in funding for a feasibility study to look at replacing the HCTC building in coming years to accommodate increased enrollment and the need to adapt programs to a changing job market.
Of the camp, said Boles, “One of the biggest things I’ve heard is that younger students don’t know what opportunities are out there.”
“We are very, very short on skilled workforce. Our local businesses do not have people filling their jobs.”
The cost for the week is $200 (with a $50 discount for each additional child). It includes all field trips and activities (lunch is not provided).
But Boles said she didn’t want the cost to dissuade families. A $4,500 gift from Bar Harbor Bank & Trust will provide scholarships for students, Boles said.
The camp, she continued, will get students “into our school. It’s going to get them tied to local business people and hopefully give them a general understanding of careers available in our community.”