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Youth trade expo at Canfield Fairgrounds

More than 4,000 from Valley plan to attend

CANFIELD — High school students considering a career in the skilled trades will have the chance to experience a variety of skills and connect with professionals about entering the industry in a first-ever event Thursday.

The Mahoning Valley Skilled Trades Expo is 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Canfield Fairgrounds.

More than 4,000 students from Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties and Lawrence and Mercer counties in Pennsylvania plan to attend, said Gary Hartman, association services director with the Builders Association of Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania.

It is open to students in grades 7 to 12.

“Students will have the opportunity to experience the industry firsthand by doing … not just seeing,” Hartman said.

Representatives from 16 trades will be on hand as will some contractors and interactive and static displays with equipment, Hartman said. Information on how to apply for an apprenticeship will also be available.

The expo had been an idea for about 10 years until this year when a committee of people from the trades, career and technical schools and other leaders formed.

“We took the input of what our educators were looking for to help them develop some career exploration and it just grew exponentially from there,” Hartman said.

“One of things that we learned, school districts are really focusing on career preparedness and exploration and realizing that with recent trends that not every kid is suited for college or wants to go to college,” he said. “There are still a lot of jobs in the skilled trades, an industry that has good-paying jobs that we are having trouble filling.”

For example, according to Hartman, the construction industry will be about 2 million jobs short to meet the need in 2020.

The event was to include metal fabricator, racer and television personality Jessi Combs, called “the fastest woman on four wheels,” until her unexpected death Aug. 27 in a crash while trying to break the land-speed world record.

She has not been replaced as the keynote speaker. Rather, the time will be devoted to getting more students to experience the available activities and event stages, Hartman said.

Partnering to put on the expo are the builders association, Western Reserve Building Trades, educational service centers in Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties and the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber.

It’s hoped to next year expand the expo to multiple days and have an afternoon session for parents, plus adults interested in the skilled trades.

rselak@tribtoday.com