New program helps high school students plan career paths

SOUTH MILWAUKEE -- It is never too early to think about a career.  While many young people may change their minds as they grow and learn, it's good to know what the opportunities are and what it takes to achieve them. A workshop called "My Life! My Plan!" is designed to pair students with mentors to explore careers.

“I definitely want a job that's going to set me up for success in my future. I'm looking into pharmacy or maybe a lawyer," Jessica Agalliu, a sophomore at South Milwaukee High School said.

On Tuesday, September 18th, Agalliu and dozens of other students took part in the workshop. The students were paired with mentors to explore careers and develop a plan – discussing which classes to take, which schools to attend and how to develop the skill sets necessary for that field.

“Employers don't necessarily hire people.  They hire people with skills.  They hire skill sets,” Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson said.

Newson announced a $30,000 grant to fund the pilot program that will eventually reach out to 3,000 students in the Milwaukee area.  It's an approach to fill a talent gap by 2018.

“Wisconsin will need to replace almost one million new workers, so we need to start right now with young people,” Newson said.

More than 100 mentors from the business world in the M7 region have made themselves available for the program.

“I try to share as much experience as possible, to help them avoid some of the obstacles I went through -- some of the things that really can be avoided if you just plan ahead,” Shirley Bufford, a program director at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Continuing Education said.

Right now, the "My life! My plan!" pilot program takes place in schools at MPS and South Milwaukee.  The goal is to expand the program statewide.