Southern Oregon Trade Careers Expo Highlights Living Wage Careers

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By Julie Niles-Fry

The desperate outcry from trades and manufacturing businesses across Southern Oregon has been heard and addressed.  The second biennial Southern Oregon Trade Careers Expo took place on September 26th at Seven Feathers in Canyonville, bringing 2,000 high school juniors and seniors, veterans, retiring military personnel, job seekers, and 108 businesses together to “Empower the Possible”.  

The SOTCE was created to demonstrate that a traditional university path is not the only way to make living wages; there exists ‘the other 4-year degree’ via on-the-job training and apprenticeships. 

Attendees at the Expo delved into 10 acres of skilled professional activities.  They welded and used chain saws, moved the earth with excavators, felt the power of the Blackhawk, and rose to the treetops in Pacific Power buckets.  Indoors they discussed career paths in everything from manufacturing and technology to careers with the FBI.  Ashland High school Senior Brook DeRieux remarked, “You got electricians, you got plumbing, you got wildland fire fighting, you even got the FBI here. I didn’t realize how many jobs would actually be here and I feel like I have more of an opportunity to get out there and prove myself.”  This is no ordinary career fair.  

ODOT Civil Rights Coordinator Christie Meacham has been at the helm of organizing both the 2017 and 2019 event.  “It’s been great to expand this event to include the six counties.  Industries need this event to shed light on living wage careers and show students and job seekers that these jobs are all accessible right now here in Southern Oregon.”  

Exhibiting businesses expressed their gratitude. Their workforce is aging out; the average age of a skilled trade professional is 55, and over 2 million professionals were needed yesterday.  The SOTCE addresses the urgency.  Brian Fisher, Operations Manager from Pressure Point Roofing in Medford said, “We like to train our employees, so we need to tell students that we’ll hire them without any experience.  I could hire 3 roofers today, and I hope some of them come to Pressure Point Roofing.”  The professionals at F.D. Thomas, an industrial services company, showed pictures and excitement on their Facebook page, “Our Team successfully met with over 2,000 HS students and career seeking veterans!” 

The next Southern Oregon Trade Careers Expo is already scheduled at Seven Feathers on September 21, 2021.  Check out the website at to see how your business can help “Empower the Possible.”

Julie Niles-Fry
Career Development and Marketing Coordinator

High School Students      FROM cOOS, cURRY, dOUGLAS, jACKSON, jOSEPHINE & kLAMATH counties

Veterans, Active Duty Military personnel, REFERRED pUBLIC AND pRIVATE aGENCIES   

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