They may not know yet what they want to be when they graduate, but almost 5,000 regional eighth-graders recently explored a variety of career paths during the third annual Southeast Worlds of Work (WOW) at the National Peanut Festival Fairgrounds in Dothan. The students came from Alabama, Georgia and Florida to take part in the fun, educational and hands-on career expo.
The expo is a way for students to become familiar with the high-demand, high-wage career opportunities available in the tri-state region. It is also designed to create awareness about career options among students and educators that address the current workforce needs in the area.
“This is a terrific opportunity for our business to introduce these students to tech and trade fields that we need them to consider as a career path,” said Kendal Adams, Alabama Power’s Phenix City Distribution manager. “We see this as our chance to meet face to face with the workforce of the future and promote our industry as a consideration for them.”
The event showcased more than 50 organizations and businesses in agriculture, automotive technology, aviation and aerospace, construction, health care, manufacturing, media and technology, public service and the military, transportation and logistics, and utilities.
The Alabama Power exhibit included displays and demonstrations across the spectrum of the utility industry. Students could operate a crane in a simulator; see what happens when a hawk flies into a powerline and how automated switching re-energizes the line; learn about electrical safety with the Safe-T-Zone display; and operate a mini-derrick.
“Naturally, they are not all engaged,” said Adams. “But many times, we encounter students who show a genuine interest and spark and that is very rewarding. We want to reach as many young people as we can and make them aware of the many opportunities Alabama Power has to offer.”
Mike Tew, president of Southeast WOW, said he hopes even more area businesses and industries will become involved in the annual event. “It’s only going to grow and get better,” said Tew. “This is our third year and it has gotten bigger and better each year. It is a way for us to enhance our community workforce by developing career interest among students and provide a pipeline for labor for our businesses and industries for the future.”
Southeast WOW is a project of Southeast Alabama Works, the workforce council for 10 counties across southeast Alabama. “We go across state lines because we understand where our workforce comes from,” Tew said.
This year, students from Barbour, Butler, Coffee, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Geneva, Henry, Houston and Pike counties from Alabama; Early, Miller and Seminole counties in Georgia; and Jackson, Holmes and Washington counties from Florida attended.
To learn more about Southeast WOW, visit here.