Consulting firm McKinsey & Company predicts that by 2020, there will be a shortage of 1.5 million college grads, which means employers will continue to place a high premium on better-educated workers.

This is a challenge for all communities, ours included. One step that I’m proud of that I think our community educators and affiliates do so well is April Career Week.

This annual event, put on by the Workforce and Education group of the Bennington County Industrial Corporation, celebrates the connections between education and careers in the Bennington area during the first two weeks of April (April 4 – 16). April Career Week is made up of career speakers (of which I will be one), workshops, career fairs, cultural events, and a college sit-in. These activities are meant to assist students, job seekers and others interested in learning more about career and educational opportunities in Bennington County.

Free events designed for the community include

∙••••••An open house and tour of Abacus Automation in Bennington from 10- 11:30 on Saturday April 16 for consistency with the rest of your list...put a period here

∙••••••The Dress for Success Fashion Show and discussion at the Department of Labor featuring students from Southern Vermont College, clothes from Maurice and makeup tips by G. Stevens on Thursday, April 7.

∙••••••The second annual Wellness Fair featuring twenty vendors and practitioners will be held at the Community College of Vermont on Friday, April 8 from 12:00 -3:00.

∙••••••Creative Workforce Solutions will hold an Employer Recognition Breakfast on Tuesday morning, April 5 at the Bennington Firehouse.

∙••••••The Vermont Department of Labor will host a variety of free workshops for the public including Vermont Labor Market Info and Trends on Tuesday, April 5, Job Search workshop on Wednesday, April 6 and a resume-writing workshop on Wednesday, April 13. All workshops run from 9:00 – 11:30 am.

∙••••••The Community College of Vermont will open up its classes to visitors April 4 - 10 during the annual Sit-In. Is this their word choice? A sit-in has the connotation of a takeover of sorts... Interested community members should contact CCV at 447-2361 for more information. On Sunday, April 10, Bennington College opens the campus to the public for Bennington Works, its open studio day.

∙••••••During the week of April 4, more than sixty local business leaders will be meeting with high school freshmen, sophomores, and juniors with 60 participants and me having worked with high school kids for several years, I must wonder why we are not among the 60! in 101 different classes at Mount Anthony Union High School to discuss the connections between careers, education and local opportunities.

∙••••••MAUHS will host its annual College Fair and a Transition Fair on April 7. Mount Anthony Union Middle School will hold aCareer Fair on Tuesday, April 12. The Career Development Center will be visiting all area elementary schools and MAUMS to share information about their career-oriented programs.

∙••••••The Sophomore Career Summit, held on April 14 on the Bennington College campus, will again bring close to 300 10th graders from high schools across the county to spend the day learning about careers and educational pathways. Each student will focus on two of the thirteen separate career tracks offered and speak with panels of professionals representing the field. To round out the day, students learn about a range of post- high school graduation opportunities including college, technical school, military, workforce and military options.

A complete calendar listing of events is available at and at the Bennington CCV Academic Center, 324 Main Street in Bennington. I recently had a chance to talk with newly elected Select Board member and chair of the Workforce and Education working group, Jeannie Jenkins, about this event now in its fourth year.

She commented that the April celebration of education and careers highlights the commitment by both business and educational institutions to economic development in Bennington. I couldn’t agree with her more. Both coming from educational and training backgrounds, Jeannie and I are “cut from the same clothe” cloth in terms of our belief in the absolute importance and power of education in building a community. We hope that the community will come out to take part in the many programs and activities that are offered in April and learn more about the resources and opportunities we have in our own backyard.