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JOCO WORKS 2022 Sparks Career Interests for Eighth-Grade Students

Launched in 2019, the event was virtual for the last two years, this being the first year since the pandemic it was held face-to-face again. More than 3,000 eighth-grade students of Johnston County Public Schools attended JOCO WORKS 2022. Students were taken to JCC in Smithfield where students had the opportunity to connect with more than 40 local industries, including Grifols, NC Department of Transportation, and Novo Nordisk.

Novo Nordisk, one of the largest employers in Johnston County, was the presenting sponsor of JOCO WORKS. They have been in Clayton for the last 30 years and are the world’s leading diabetes care company. 

“Novo Nordisk is proud to have been the presenting sponsor for JOCO WORKS since its inception in 2019. During the past four years, this hands-on career exploration experience has touched the lives of more than 10,000 Johnston County eighth-grade students,” said Chad Henry, Corporate Vice President for Novo Nordisk in Clayton, NC. 

“Whether these students choose to further their education through community college, military service, or four-year degree programs, Novo Nordisk and other leading employers are prepared to offer them rewarding and meaningful careers,” Henry said.

According to Kathyrn Farrior, Career and Technical Education Workforce Development Specialist, eighth grade is the perfect time for students to refine their understanding of careers as they begin to make important decisions about high school.

“The interactive nature of JOCO WORKS allowed students to take another step towards solidifying their career plans,” said Farrior. 

“This was also an opportunity for businesses and employers in our community to plant a seed at a critical time, a time when students will soon be asked to decide which courses and pathways they will focus on during and after high school."  

~Kathryn Farrior, Career and Technical Education Workforce Development Specialist~

Eighth-grade students not only had hands-on opportunities, they received information on career pathways. Each career pathway provided sample occupations, general education requirements, and average salaries within each industry. Each student received in-depth exposure into their desired field.

Riverwood student Jarron Jordan said he was most excited about JOCO WORKS because he was able to learn more about the wonderful careers Johnston County has to offer. 

Even though he plans to go into healthcare administration, Jordan’s interest was sparked about teaching, which he had never thought was a profession he would choose. He realized through JOCO WORKS that not only could he become a teacher and impact a student’s life in a major way, but he could also become a principal.

Industries highlighted included biotechnology, manufacturing, construction, hospitality, and tourism, to name a few. By simulating real world careers, JOCO WORKS was an excellent opportunity for these students to explore careers they may have never even thought about before entering high school.

This year, JOCO WORKS was the first to feature BE PRO BE PROUD trucks in the entire state. This state-supported movement is bringing a new generation of pride, progress, and professionals to North Carolina’s skilled workforce. 

Two BE PRO BE PROUD tractor trailers housed mobile workshops where middle- and high-school students could gain hands-on experience with professions.  The goal of the program is to stimulate student, parent, and educator interest in technical professions within the construction, manufacturing, transportation, and utility industries. 

Johnston County Community College Interim President Dr. Kenneth Boham said, “JOCO WORKS showed the students not only what Johnston County has to offer for work, but that they can also tie into our programs to prepare the students to go to work in Johnston County with the fine people presented here in business and industry of Johnston County.”

Click HERE to see a video recap of the event! 

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