BATAVIA — GLOW with Your Hands was unable to gather hundreds of students at the county Fairgrounds like it did in September of last year. At least it was able to bring them together to hear from area employees using a virtual platform.
The platform (glowwithyourhandsvirtual.com) expands the experience with innovative, on-demand exploration of 34 careers across four sections of the regional economy, benefit all students in Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming counties, the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) said. Schools received early access to the GLOW With Your Hands virtual website starting Nov. 2. The full website has launched to the public, and students, parents and educators are encouraged to immerse themselves in the platform. The four career fields featured in glowwithyourhandsvirtual.com are agriculture, food production, advanced manufacturing and skilled trades. Careers highlighted include assembly and fabrication, welding, concrete and masonry, project manager, food packaging, veterinary technician, animal nutritionist, and commercial driver’s license (CDL) driver.
For example, CDL driver is among the careers students can read more about on the virtual platform. They may click on the “CDL driver” link, which takes them to a page showing “Career Overview”: a description of the what CDL drivers do, listing of job duties, earnings — an average annual income of $33,745, education/training requirements, and job outlook and growth. Further down, “Career Pathway” shows a student middle school and high school opportunities for training programs as well as colleges and their training programs.
“WE CONSULTED WITH technology teachers, we’ve talked to companies who offer these positions. State and federal labor statistics too. We tried to get information about the potential growth of a position 10 years from 10 now. ‘What is the outlook for that particular job position?’” said Karyn Winters, director of the Genesee County Business Education Alliance (BEA).
“So far, since we launched, our initial push has been to get the word out to superintendents and administrators. We’ve had several principals who have emailed us back, saying what an awesome resource this is, just commending us on providing and launching such an ambitious project,” Winters said. “We did a soft launch Nov. 2. We decided to hold off on the public launch ... until after the election was concluded. Outreach to the public was Nov. 9.
Winters said students can benefit from the platform, but added, “I would say the public is equally important. I see this as a great tool and resource for parents and guardians.”
The glowwithyourhandsvirtual.com website gives parents a chance to explore career options and have deep, meaningful conversations with their children, she said.
“Outreach to parents and the greater public is important to make this successful,” she said.
Right now, the hope is to return to a live GLOW With Your Hands event Sept. 28, 2021, at the county Fairgrounds.
“We’re so thrilled and excited to launch with 34 careers. We hope to add to it every single year. I see this website being a very important companion piece to the live event at the Fairgrounds,” Winters said.
ALSO ON THE VIRTUAL PLATFORM, under the various career paths featured, there were multiple video interviews with professionals in that career path.
“The content for the GLOW with Your Hands in terms of the filming was handled by primary by Karyn Winters ... and myself,” said Angela Grouse, director of education to employment initiatives at the Livingston County Area Chamber of Commerce. “We worked with our committee chairs to reach out to employers and create opportunities to develop content for local jobs. As the committee was developing the concept for the virtual categories, we identified individuals to head each sector. For the agricultural sector, we had ... Bernadette Harwood. She is the ag in the classroom educator for the Livingston County Cornell Cooperative Extension. Bernadette would reach out to these employers, explain the mission and vision of GLOW with Your Hands virtual and the response from businesses was overwhelmingly supportive.”
Grouse said employers selected individuals within their organization whom they wished to feature in the videos, based on in-demand careers in their industries.
“Not only is this a phenomenal tool for students and educators, it is a great opportunity for employers to develop their talent pipeline. We hear local employers ... they are struggling with these four industry sectors (agriculture, food production, advanced manufacturing and skilled trades) to find employees to fill these jobs,” she said. “The GLOW with Your Hands initiative is not just to benefit students. It’s to benefit local companies and improve the economy in our region. What we find is there are stigmas or stereotypes attached to these industries and we need to re-educate people on the opportunities that exist. We need to re-educate students and parents because the return on investment in these careers is excellent.
“Counselors are sharing the platform on their pages. We are in the process of developing a ‘best practices’ piece to share with educators for use in classrooms,” she said. “On the website, pathways for students are outlined what classes should you take in middle or high school. 80 percent of these careers say you should take algebra. As an algebra teacher ... I can pull up a video clip where someone says ‘Math is important, algebra in particular.’ It allows teacher to share with students the relevance of their coursework in the world.”
Grouse said the outcome of the COVID-19 situation will drive the ability to host an in-person GLOW with Your Hands next year.
“The plan is for the virtual site to grow and develop over time as well. It’s not going to stay 34 careers. The goal is for that to broaden long-term,” she said.
A COUPLE OF GLOW REGION school district employees told The Daily News what they’ve done so far with the GLOW with Your Hands virtual platform.
“I have placed it into my Counseling Google Classroom for ninth, 10th and 11th grades. I have also asked tech and other teachers to use it when it fits into the curriculum,” said Keshequa Central School District High School Guidance Counselor Syd Houseknecht. “Although the GLOW can be useful to seniors, generally it is most effective in helping earlier grades in their career research. Once it is in my virtual classroom, students have unlimited time to view the videos — during study halls or at home.”
Je-Lan Baird, business teacher and DECA advisor at Pembroke Central School District, said, “The business class, Career and Financial Management, will be using the platform to give students an in-depth look at the different careers focused in manufacturing, agriculture, food processing and the skilled trades.
Baird said glowwithyourhandsvirtual.com is a help for any student interested in these types of career opportunities.
“They are able to see what job duties they would complete, the earnings they could make, what type of education and/or training they would need to prepare for this career, and the future opportunities for the career of interest,” she said. “This helps students understand what their next steps need to be after high school if they would like to pursue the chosen career. The platform is available whenever the teacher/students need to access the information. There is no time limit.”