On Tuesday and Wednesday, 25 high school students and recent graduates attended classes at the Billings Career Center to learn about Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards.
This is the first year that the Ready for Work safety and career fair has been hosted in Billings, said Casey Kyler-West, the Safety Fest Montana coordinator at the Montana Safety and Health Bureau.
The free two-day class, which would cost between $600 and $700 if they took it on their own, earned students their OSHA 10 card and ended with a career fair.
“This event only gives them a brief intro to safety,” said Kyler-West. “They can see some of the career paths they can take.”
Jacob Schoenberger, 18, said he believes the class will help his chances in the market as he looks for work.
“My parents are forcing me to find a job,” he said. “I think it’s going to help me out a little bit.”
The West High graduate said he plans on staying active this summer and attending Northwest College in Powell, Wyo., in the fall.
Employers at the career fair said they look for potential employees who show initiative like taking classes to prepare them for potential careers.
Rachel Turitto, a human resources specialist with the Montana Department of Transportation, said having a certificate like the OSHA 10 is a good sign of a candidate’s willingness to work hard.
“I think continuing education, even if it’s not directly related to their job, is beneficial for a potential candidate,” she said.
If she were looking at resumes and one had extra certifications and the other didn’t, she would be drawn to the one who had more qualifications. “I think it would give them an advantage,” she said.
Ed Dawes, one of the instructors and a safety consultant for the Montana Safety Bureau, said he works with many employers and knows from experience that classes like the one he taught Tuesday and Wednesday are beneficial to people looking for work.
“A lot of employers require an OSHA 10 class,” he said.
Classes that teach students about potential hazards on the job can help employers consider hiring someone, even if they’re not actively searching but could use the help.
“You got to start somewhere,” he said. “Everyone has room for one more, if they can find a good one.”