IdahoPTV Awarded Grant to Create Videos Connecting Youth to Construction Careers

Idaho Public Television is one of 10 public media stations nationwide selected to create fun and engaging videos to help connect young people with potential careers as part of the next chapter of the American Graduate initiative — American Graduate: Jobs Explained.

Led by the WNET Group and funded by a $3.2 million grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), American Graduate: Jobs Explained focuses on digital content created by, with and for youth, and shared on social media platforms to help young people explore potential careers, stay inspired, and commit to continued education and training.

As part of this grant-funded project, IdahoPTV has hired Matthew Baltzell to create original video content focused on construction careers. Baltzell is an Idaho native who grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, before returning to Idaho to earn a theater degree at Boise State University. He has also lived in New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles, all cities where he worked in comedy troupes. Baltzell plans to bring that spirit of fun, improvisation, and embracing new opportunities to the videos he creates.

“I’m excited to be a part of this project, and I hope to inspire a new generation of construction professionals. There’s a lot that people don’t know about this industry,” says Baltzell. “There’s so much art and science that goes into this line of work, as well as new technology changing things all the time. I just saw a demonstration of Building and Information Modeling (BIM) that uses virtual reality to interact with 3D models of buildings. I toured the College of Southern Idaho’s RV that’s decked out with equipment and TV screens to teach middle school students about construction work. I visited a charity event called the Construction Combine, where high school students learn construction by building sheds for Idaho veterans. By talking with the people working in construction today, I’ll be able to shine a light on the opportunities that young Americans have in front of them. I also hope to make things fun and engaging along the way.”

Check out this video for an introduction to the Construction Jobs Explained series:

The public media initiative American Graduate was launched in 2011 to help young people stay on a path to a high school diploma and has since evolved into explaining career pathways for students exploring all types of postsecondary education and employment.

After the economic upheaval caused by the pandemic and the Great Resignation, educational institutions and American employers alike are considering how to best prepare the next generation of students for careers. Through American Graduate: Jobs Explained, public media stations will work with local youth to produce social media videos on careers in specific industries.

Idaho Public Television is producing videos about construction careers that will be available on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook with #JobsExplained and tailored hashtags #ConstructionJobsExplained and #JobTok.

“Since 2018, IdahoPTV has been assisting young adults in finding their career paths through the American Graduate initiative,” says Jeff Tucker, general manager of Idaho Public Television. “First we focused on highlighting high-paying, in-demand careers for graduates with an apprenticeship, a certification or a two-year degree. We built a lot of great partnerships with state education and industry leaders. For the next three years, the American Graduate: Jobs Explained grant allows us to continue the great work for any student seeking additional education after high school for the construction industry. And we’re focusing on young adults and social media. It’s where the interest and eyeballs are. This is a way that IdahoPTV can use private funding to continue to be helpful to the citizens of Idaho.”

Idaho Public Television is also looking for young people age 13-20 who are interested in construction careers to join our Construction Jobs Explained youth advisory committee. Here’s more information and a link to register:

The WNET Group, which is leading the national American Graduate: Jobs Explained effort, worked with CPB to select and collaborate with the 10 stations. Each will create original digital videos about in-demand, lucrative and civic-minded careers in industries like manufacturing, healthcare, green transformation, trades, information technology and hospitality. The goal is to not only improve the economy, but also build stronger, informed and more civic-minded communities. The full list of stations, along with their career-focused industry, are: 

•             Idaho Public Television – Boise, ID – @ConstructJobs_Explained

•             WFSU – Tallahassee, FL – @HealthcareJobs_Explained

•             OETA – Oklahoma City, OK – @AerospaceJobs_Explained

•             WCNY – Syracuse, NY – @IndustrialJobs_Explained

•             Maine Public – Lewiston, ME – @GreenJobs_Explained

•             Ideastream Public Media – Cleveland, OH – @ShippingJobs_Explained

•             WHUT – Washington, DC – @TravelJobs_Explained

•             Detroit Public Television – Wixom, MI – @TechJobs_Explained

•             Alaska Public Media – Anchorage, AK – @TransportJobs_Explained

•             WQED – Pittsburgh, PA – @CyberJobs_Explained

“CPB’s support of the American Graduate initiative helped to increase the high school graduation rate, and now our support of American Graduate: Jobs Explained will help young people discover and prepare for meaningful jobs and careers,” says Patricia Harrison, President and CEO of CPB. “American Graduate: Jobs Explained will connect with students through social media to highlight career paths in their communities.”

The WNET Group will curate and manage the national American Graduate: Jobs Explained social media accounts, produce a professional development series, and assemble National Business Advisory and National Youth Advisory meetings, among other activities. American Graduate: Jobs Explained will also have a project website, providing a central hub for information about the work, as well as resources for young job seekers. Station partners will convene local business advisory and youth advisory groups and lead in-person or virtual community events, such as educator workshops or job trainings.

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