Central AlabamaWorks event links teens with career opportunities

Central AlabamaWorks event links teens with career opportunities
Central AlabamaWorks Career Discovery exposed teens to career opportunities like drone piloting with Alabama Power. (Michael Jordan / Alabama NewsCenter)

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

It’s a question that we often playfully ask an elementary school student, not often expecting an informed or final answer.

But what if the student is in the eighth grade and preparing for high school where apprenticeships, co-op programs and other training opportunities could shape them for those future careers?

Central AlabamaWorks is not just asking that question but trying to provide answers to more than 2,500 students in the 13 counties it represents with Career Discovery on April 4 and 5 at Trenholm State Community College-Patterson Site in Montgomery.

Central AlabamaWorks hosts Career Discovery for area students from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Dozens of companies and organizations across a variety of industries showcased the career opportunities available for those still uncertain about what they want to be when the grow up.

“They will have an opportunity for hands-on career discovery, said Gindi Prutzman, executive director of Central AlabamaWorks. “We really want them to be able to touch it and feel it and live it and see maybe some ideas they haven’t thought about, careers that they’ve not thought about going into.”

Some of those students know a four-year degree will be necessary for what they want to do. Some may not need to attend college at all. Either way, now is the age when they need to think about what is required, Prutzman said.

“Really, we’re all about trying to lay out that path that they need to achieve that career,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be college, it might be community college, might be training, might be an apprenticeship, certification, but we want them to start thinking about that path.”

AlabamaWorks is a statewide program that operates in different regions. It is a collaboration between K-12, community colleges, universities, worker training and, most importantly, business and industry.

What business and industry require of today’s workforce dictates the entire program, Prutzman said.

‘We want their input no matter what,” she said. “Without that, we don’t know what to provide. What skills do they need? What is our workforce lacking? Business and industry are driving it. If we don’t have them at the table to tell us those needs, then we can’t meet those needs.”

The Career Discovery expo included industries ranging from health care to military, law enforcement, automotive, construction, utilities, agriculture, forestry, machining and more. Many struggle to fill jobs.

“The takeaway is really to serve our business and industry,” Prutzman said. “They are having a tough time finding that workforce and there is no better way than to grow our own in Alabama.”

AlabamaWorks aligns with the seven Regional Workforce Councils created across the state to address workforce needs. Central AlabamaWorks serves Region 5, which includes Autauga, Bullock, Chambers, Coosa, Dallas, Elmore, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Montgomery, Perry, Russell and Tallapoosa counties.

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