BILLINGS - The class of 2023 learned Tuesday the workforce is primed for entry, and the Billings public schools are trying to help.
School District 2 brought in about 100 employers to talk with students at the MetraPark Montana Pavilion at a career fair.
It was an opportunity for students to find out about careers and jobs as they leave high school.
High schoolers from across the region got a chance to explore what's out there at the Let's Get To Work Career Fair.
"There was a lot of like medical stuff that I was interested in," said Sydnee Reitz, a senior at Senior High. "And there was like an EMT thing. So it's a good, like, opportunity to try it out. If you're interested in that kind of stuff."
"I'm thinking maybe like paramedicine," said Tirzah Plasterer, a senior at Senior High. "Like I think that would be pretty cool. And there was like a paramedic station in there which was like really fun to like, learn about and stuff."
Some students have an idea about college and the career they want to pursue. Others may be looking at trades or that summer job.
"It's really about the career awareness and exploration trying to get them you know, at least know what's available to them," said Bo Bruinsma, Billings Public Schools career outreach director.
Bruinsma works with many in Billings, including businesses, Big Sky Economic Development and the Billings Chamber.
"It's at the forefront of a lot of employers' conversations about where are we going to find our future workforce," Bruinsma said.
"This is our future these kids," said Brandon Scala, Valley Credit Union vice president of business development. "They're our future employees. They're the ones who are going to run the companies and be the doctors and the nurses and the politicians and bankers and it's super important for us to come out, show these kids all kinds of different avenues they can travel to become successful."
And it's a challenge all over the state to find employees in many industries. Students learned about those opportunities and the possibilities for their futures.
"We don't have enough workers to fill our job openings," said Amy Watson, interim state economist at the Department of Labor & Industry. "So those employers are competing for a very limited pool of workers. And one of the main ways employers compete is through wages."
Watson says the decreased supply of workers drives up the wages and the employee shortage can be seen in health care and construction.
"In the Billings area, we see that about 87 percent of the high-demand occupations in that region are under-supplied by the local post-secondary institutions in particular," she said.
Students learned about those opportunities and possibilities for their futures.
"It is important to have opportunities like this because without them, I mean, I honestly wouldn't know what I want to do if I didn't have anyone to talk to whether or any like help along the way," Reitz said.
"It's less nerve-wracking when you hear it from like people that have been there," Plasterer said.
"This is a really cool thing that Billings Public Schools does," Bruinsma said. "Not every school district does an event like this. Not everyone has a Career Center and those types of things. So it's really fun to help them along that."