High school students in Aroostook County are learning more about career opportunities thanks to a collaboration between the Aroostook Partnership and educators in the region.

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The Partnership purchased access to the Virtual Job Shadow (VJS) program for every high school in Aroostook County. It is an online career exploration resource that provides all the tools and resources for charting a career path by choice, not chance.

End of the year totals show the service was used more than 2,300 hundred times by students and more than 160 by educators.

RSU 39 based in Caribou was by far the most frequent user with more than 765 times accessed. SAD 29 and SAD 1 were the next most frequent users.

“The Partnership decided to purchase VJS as we view securing our future workforce as our highest priority. We’ve been encouraging all high schools to promote job opportunities, local businesses tours or inviting local businesses to speak to students to increase awareness of County businesses and jobs that are increasing every year as more folks reach retirement age,” said Bob Dorsey, Aroostook Partnership President and CEO. “We asked the VJS program folks if we [AP] could purchase the program for all schools and get a discounted rate and they said yes – thus instead of paying roughly $15,000, we got a quote for $8,900 saving $6,000 for this valuable tool.”

The Partnership picked up the entire tab for the program last year and this year it is a 50/50 split between AP and the districts. In fact, one of AP's newest major investors, Machias Savings, dedicated their $5,000 investment to the VJS purchase as supporting education is one of their top priorities.

Dorsey said the online program is comprehensive, students can see videos of different professions, learn about the education and skills needed, job environment, and see the typical salaries as well. VJS is very user friendly and students can access the program from any computer or tablet anytime they wish.

Further information is available in high school guidance offices or, if your district is part of Gear Up, from the Gear Up Coordinator. You can also contact Dorsey at rdorsey@aroostookpartnership.org.

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