Hays CISD students look at local job opportunities

Offering Hays CISD seniors the chance to see what high-paying, full-time jobs are within their reach was the goal of the district’s inaugural “Hiring Day.”

While the event wasn’t for everyone, Kyle Economic Development (ED) Executive Director Diana Torres, one of the organizers of the event, hopes it offers a sense of encouragement for those seniors who still don’t quite have a path mapped out once they graduate.

“Some were not going to college and others didn’t know what they were going to be doing,” Torres said. “We thought this was a win-win situation for everyone, if we could get in front of them and offer opportunities.”

Texas Disposal Systems was one of 11 local employers that participated in the Hiring Day event.

Hays CISD’s Hiring Day, held at Hays High, was a collaborative effort involving Kyle ED, the Buda Economic Development Corporation, the San Marcos Manufacturing Association and Hays CISD’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) department.

More than 200 students from Hays, Lehman and Live Oak participated and were in direct contact with 11 employers from the Kyle, Buda and San Marcos area, said Hays CISD CTE Coordinator Suzi Mitchell. Businesses that took part in hiring day were Texas Disposal Systems, Alsco, Kyle’s Public Works Department and the Internal Revenue Service.

The idea for the event was the result of Kyle ED board members’ discussions with local manufactures who have been struggling to fill positions, Torres said. Manufacturing businesses have been clamoring for employees and not necessarily those with college degrees, said Mitchell.

Over the course of a month, ED board members, along with other economic development organizations, conferred with Hays CISD to determine the best way to address the problem.

Their solution was tapping into a “captive” audience in Hays CISD graduating seniors who were still planning for their futures. In addition, the board expanded the scope of the event to include skilled labor positions, as well as the manufacturing industry.

Torres said students at the event received presentations from each business for the first hour. The second hour allowed students to meet directly with employers to see what opportunities they had.

Directing Hays CISD students to jobs and opportunities in the manufacturing sector that could offer full-time pay and benefits was also a goal for Torres. In Hays County, manufacturing jobs pay 38 percent more than the median wage.

Employers and Kyle ED staff also stressed the importance of commitment to a career and the need to prepare for things such as retirement.

Torres hopes to keep students from having to work two to three jobs to fill a 40-hour work week, which often don’t come with benefits. Many of the employers who attended the event were offering on-the-job training and more.

“It was impressive. I think they’re hungry for something to do,” Torres said. “They’re underestimated. College isn’t for everyone and these kids can make a great living in trades such as manufacturing.”

Marco Pizana, CTE Internship Coordinator, said most students were excited to interact with hiring managers and CEOs of local companies about what their expectations are and what they look for when hiring employees. Students also gained insight into possible benefit packages. One student told Pizana what was offered by one employer could be a salary he could live off of once he exits high school.

Students were also encouraged to learn that skills gained through various CTE pathways could translate into those occupations, especially those with a background in skilled manufacturing.

“Using those skills is beneficial,” Pizana said. “If they enjoy working with hands, these could be perfect jobs for them.”

Mitchell and Torres hope to build on the momentum and expand the event next year. Torres aims to hold an all-day event at the Hays CISD Performing Arts Center.

Torres also hopes to include an educational element to teach students about retail versus trade professions, and potentially have more employers hire students on the spot.

While no students were directly hired this year, Pizana said CTE staff will check with employers in the next few months to see if any students were hired.

“The big takeaway is they (students) are excited to get into the world,” Pizana said.

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