Over 8,000 middle and high school students across West Michigan had the opportunity to experience more than 300 high-demand careers first-hand at this year’s MiCareerQuest. Held at the DeVos Place Convention Center on March 27 from 9 a.m. to 1:20 p.m., the annual event provides a dynamic platform for students to engage with industry professionals and participate in interactive experiences across a variety of five high-demand sectors.

MiCareerQuest featured 121 interactive exhibits from 111 employers in advanced manufacturing, construction, health sciences, information technology, and agribusiness. Each exhibit provided students with a hands-on activity and an opportunity to talk directly with professionals about their career paths and the skills and education needed to succeed in those fields.

With 37.5 million baby boomers set to retire in the next decade and only 21 million new workers entering the workforce, MiCareerQuest serves as a critical bridge in addressing the talent pipeline for Michigan’s high-demand industries.

“As we continue to find solutions for future talent gaps, it is critical to engage the next generation of talent with the high-demand industries that drive Michigan’s economy,” said Jacob Maas, CEO, West Michigan Works!. “MiCareerQuest is pivotal in building this connection, serving as a bridge that prepares students for rewarding careers and ensures our industries have the skilled workforce they need to thrive.

The event attracted students from 87 schools in Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Muskegon, and Ottawa counties, highlighting the broad interest and importance of MiCareerQuest.

Students learned what it’s like to be a cyber security engineer, electric vehicle engineer, heavy equipment operator, maintenance technician, 3-D scanning technician, plant tissue culture lab tech, food safety inspector, surgical technician, optician and more by interacting with the professionals who do these jobs every day.

“One of our goals is to open students to what possible careers are out there and MiCareerQuest really fits that bill. Students can go around and experience careers that may or may not require a four-year college degree, including many careers they didn’t even know existed,” said Nathon Kelley, school board president, Allegan Public Schools.