CareerExplore Northwest began in response to feedback from the Spokane area business community expressing a desire for a strong workforce for our region. Employers wanted to hire locally but lamented the lack of qualified or interested applicants. At the same time, local school districts were beginning to expand their goals beyond preparing students for four-year college degrees, recognizing the many options for living-wage jobs that required other types of training.
Starting in 2018, we developed an advisory council made up of the Spokane Workforce Council, industry leaders, Spokane’s chamber of commerce (GSI), several area school districts, regional universities, and our community colleges to help find a solution. The result is CareerExplore Northwest, a multimedia tool and community resource for students and adults that provides practical, up-to-date information about a variety of jobs in our region.
We began by working with businesses to produce 90-second job spotlights. We interviewed employees who were passionate about their work in order to inspire young people to seek out more information. Businesses and grantors cover our production costs and also receive an underwriting schedule on KSPS PBS.
We built a website, CareerExploreNW.org, to feature the job spotlights provide up-to-date data from the Spokane Workforce Council. CareerExplore Northwest has become a bridge between educators and industry. MacKay Manufacturing, our first sponsor, reported that 40 percent of their website traffic was driven by CareerExploreNW.org.
We regularly consult with Career and Technical Education specialists at area school districts to ensure the website meets their educational needs and to help them promote its use in schools. Our advisory council meets regularly to discuss project growth and assess how well the site is meeting local needs.
As we continue the project, at the request of both educators and businesses, we are creating 360-degree interactive Virtual Field Trips, where students can click-and-drag for an up-close look behind the scenes at regional companies.