Andy Neigel, president at CAREERS: The Next Generation said the annual career expo hosted Thursday brings thousands of central Alberta students together to explore future career options. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff

Central Alberta students explore career options

High school students are not just looking for well-paying jobs in their future, but also to make a difference in the world.

More than 3,600 central Alberta high school students gathered at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre on Thursday to meeet with industry experts.

The Careers: The Next Generation expo connects students and employers, as well as introduces young people to the type of post-secondary education they may want to pursue.

Red Deer College president Joel Ward said he has been participating in the career expo for a decade and has witnessed students’ attitude shift. Today’s students are looking to be environmentally friendly and reduce the carbon footprint, he said.

Traditionally, students were interested in furthering their careers and making money.

“A decade ago (the questions were) ‘what is the best paying job? How much money am I going to make? Can I stay here if I graduate? Are there going to be jobs in my hometown?’ Very much focused on their future and on money,” explained Ward.

“Now, we’re seeing a combination of a good job and maybe making a difference in the world as well.”

He explained environmental programs, IT programs and communications in the digital world are gaining popularity.

Lexa Bergstrom, a Stettler student, was checking her options at the career expo. The Grade 10 student said she is interested in nursing, or becoming a veterinarian, or pursuing a similar career where she can be close to animals.

“I like riding horses,” she said, at the equine science booth operated by Olds College.

Expo president Andy Neigel said the event brings students together so they can explore and connect and find a rewarding career path.

“The jobs are changing, the career paths are changing … it means there’s not so much of this, but there’s more of that,” he said, adding technology is a huge driver in many industries.

Neigel said students learn about the registered apprenticeship program, which allows them to begin their training in high school, where students are offered internships.

Peter Mal, associate vice-president of students and registrar at Olds College, said the school offers programs in trades, hospitality and smart agriculture for a changing and growing agriculture industry.

“When you look at technology and scale of operations in agriculture, it will require a different response in the future,” Mal said.

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