New website aims to connect students, young adults and potential workers with information about in-demand, living-wage jobs in Spokane

Written by Jason Miller, Corporate Support Specialist, KSPS


When KSPS Public Television’s Corporate Support team meets with business leaders to talk about supporting the station through sponsorships, they often hear the refrain, “We need help recruiting qualified workers.” That got them thinking: What if KSPS could connect potential workers with information about in-demand, living-wage jobs and training right here in our community? Corporate Support specialist, Jason Miller, and other station leaders began working on a concept, seeking input from business leaders, educators and workforce development groups around Spokane. Soon, Career Explore Northwest was born.

“We want to focus on local needs, local jobs, local training,” says KSPS President and General Manager Gary Stokes. “We can use the power of video to plant the possibilities in the minds of young people, adults, parents and grandparents.” Often students only know about the jobs held by family and friends. The goal of Career Explore NW is to provide meaty, up-to-date information as well as dispel myths or preconceived notions about what a particular career may be like.

KSPS Education Director, Bukola Breczinski, put together meetings with K-12 and college educators. An advisory council of business leaders (including Greater Spokane Incorporated and Spokane STEM) and educators was formed and work began on a web site, CareerExploreNW.org. The Spokane Workforce Council agreed to provide the local data that makes up the backbone of the website.

With MacKay Manufacturing taking the lead, videos have been produced spotlighting in-demand jobs in the Manufacturing sector, beginning with CNC operators. Each video features an employee whose passion for their job shines through as they describe what they do and the training path they took to get there. Videos feature diverse types of employees--those just entering the field, seasoned workers, and women in traditionally male dominated fields. In addition to the web site, the videos air on KSPS Public Television, reaching a broad base of potential employees and their families. Job spotlight videos are produced as funding through business sponsorships becomes available.

On the web site, each specific job page includes up-to-date information and graphics including salary ranges, required skills and levels of training, and even the typical number of job openings in the region. This information is consistent from page to page so that students can easily compare. Links to regional businesses and training resources in our region are also included.

Eventually, there will be pages for up to 16 different industry sectors. The Manufacturing pages are the most complete at this point. Next up are Health Care and Construction/Architecture. In addition to the job spotlight videos, each sector will include a 5-7 minute overview video. The Manufacturing video will be online this fall. Once a few more job-specific pages are available online, KSPS will begin promoting the site on-air.

Spokane Public Schools and NEWESD101 have been involved in the project from the beginning as well, helping to develop a program that genuinely meets students’ needs. SPS has committed to using the site in its Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, starting with eighth graders who are working on their High School and Beyond plans. NEWESD101 is also planning to promote the site for use by its many member school districts in eastern Washington.

The web site includes links to Spokane Workforce Council’s Next Generation Zone and its Passport to Success program. “We want to enhance the workforce development that’s happening in this community, not duplicate it,” says Stokes. Other links are welcome and will be added over time.

In addition to MacKay Manufacturing, sponsors to date include Hotstart, Washington Trust Bank, Oxarc, Spokane Workforce Council, CHAS Health and St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute.

For information about Career Explore NW, contact Jason Miller at jasonm@ksps.org or 509-443-7730.