STUDENTS EXPLORE CAREERS AT FIFTH ANNUAL WORLDS OF WORK EXPO
October 10 and 11, Shelton State Community College hosted the fifth annual Worlds of Work career expo put on by West Alabama Works and the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama.
More than 4,000 middle and high school students from 14 school systems and several private schools came to the expo, visiting more than 150 industry leaders from around West Alabama, and learning what careers are out there.
“I was the same age as these kids when I first started knowing this was the route that I wanted to take,” said Seth Russell, a welder at McAbee Construction. “College is not just for everyone. There are many opportunites out there. It doesn’t have to be welding. It can be anything construction. The wall is always growing. We are always building something new, so the opportunities are endless.”
Students who attended the expo said it’s a great opportunity to see what opportunities are available to them.
I am out here to see all the career jobs and see what I want to be one day,” said Lily Bamberg, an 8th grader at West Blocton Middle School.
“I think it is really good to get all of the young people out here and tech them how to do this stuff,” said Max McDonald, an 8th grader at Sulligent School.
“You make a lot of money doing this,” said Cameron Burns, a senior welding student at the Tuscaloosa Career and Technical Academy. “It’s a great living. I like it because it’s fun. I enjoy it. I enjoy looking at my work. I enjoy people. I just want to know the fact that I can go up to a building and say, ‘Yeah, wow, I welded on that. Wow, I helped build that building.’ That’s just amazing to me.”
Some state leaders came by on Friday, including Governor Kay Ivey and Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington.
“This will enhance their future,” Ivey said. “This program has taken off and is now the benchmark for all of the other workforce regions around the state, and other states are joining too.”
State leaders have estimated that Alabama needs half a million highly-skilled workers by the year 2025.
“It’s helping young people know what is out there and what can be out there, and will stimulate them to pursue the goals they want to pursue, so this is an eye-opening experience for the young people as well as the educators who are here today,” Ivey said.
“Now, with the unemployment rate at an all time low, events like today at Worlds of Work is a great opportunity,” Washington said. “You have students coming in and finding out opportunities of high wage jobs to meet the demand of the jobs coming in to the state. Employees right now are not necessarily looking for someone with an advanced degree, but if you have someone with a certification, you can move right into.a wonderful – not just a job – but a career.”
Worlds of Work will return for a sixth year in 2020. For more information, visit their website.