Today begins Career Week -- March 31 to April 4 -- in Bennington.

This is the second year for the wide-ranging collaborative effort that combines efforts of local schools and colleges, Bennington County Industrial Corporation, the Department of Labor, and the media. Spearheading the effort of getting Career Week events organized and scheduled were BCIC Executive Director Peter Odierna and Jeanie Jenkins, coordinator of academic services for Community College of Vermont.

Every day this week on the Banner's Opinion Page you will find a column on the theme "We Make Cool Stuff" written by a different business representative. The BCIC worked with area manufacturers to solicit this timely series of columns. The columns will help to raise awareness for manufacturing processes and opportunities at Bennington-area businesses, according to Odierna.

Today's column, on this page, is by Bruce Nelson, president and co-founder of Battenkill Technologies in Manchester Center. On Tuesday we will feature a column contributed by Dimitri Garder of Global-Z International Inc. in Bennington. Wednesday's column is by Julie Horst, director of communications for Arlington-based Mack. On Thursday there will be a column from Don DeSacia, human resources director for NSK Steering Systems America Inc. in Bennington. The final Career Week "We Make Cool Stuff" column will run Friday and was contributed by Art Whitman, president of Whitman's Feed Store in North Bennington.

Additionally, there will be student-produced videos on Bennington's composite cluster running on CAT-TV this week.

A robust calendar of events is planned throughout the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union schools and Career Development Center, at the local Department of Labor office, Community College of Vermont, Southern Vermont College and One World Conservation Center.

"We are the only region in the state that's doing it," Odierna said of the week-long events. "It's very vital for our workforce development efforts."

Local business leaders are scheduled to speak daily in grades 9-11 seminar classes at Mount Anthony Union High School. On Wednesday, Gov. Peter Shumlin will pay a visit to those classes, speaking not only on his career path to becoming an elected official, but also on his experience as a business owner.

Two local elementary schools, Pownal and Shaftsbury, will visit the Southwest Vermont Career Development Center on Wednesday for a career fair, and Molly Stark Elementary fourth-grade classes will have a visit from a career speaker on Friday.

The Vermont Department of Labor office in Bennington is hosting three labor workshops, including a job search workshop on Wednesday; two career focus workshops on Wednesday and Thursday; and a "Secrets to Your Success" workshop on Friday. Learn more or register by calling 802-442-6376.

CCV is welcoming members of the public to observe one of its many three-hour classes this week, with openings during some day and evening classes in a number of subjects. Pre-registration is needed so they can plan for the extra attendance. Call 802-447-2361 to learn more.

CCV also has a early college/dual enrollment session planned for parents and high school students. Call the above number to learn more.

Additionally, One World Conservation Center will be open to the public on Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (They say there are signs of spring to be seen on their nature trails!)

When asked whether getting business and school leaders together to host events and provide columns was difficult, Odierna said it wasn't a challenge at all.

"They know if we succeed, they succeed," he said.

According to Odierna, highlighting educational and job training opportunities is crucial and especially timely with the recent announcement that local manufacturer Plasan Carbon Composites will be closing its Bennington facility and laying off 143 workers come May.

Career week offers a multitude of opportunities for the Bennington business and education communities to share ideas and information. This full week of creative and engaging events holds something for everyone, from elementary school student to CEO. Take advantage of them.

The full schedule of career week events is available online at BenningtonBanner.

Career Week Schedule
Career Week Schedule
com, attached to the online version of this editorial.

~Michelle Karas