Thousands of Alabama 8th graders attend mega career fair

Thousands of Alabama 8th graders attend mega career fair
Students learn about career opportunities during Worlds of Opportunity, a hands-on career fair in Mobile. (Dennis Washington / Alabama NewsCenter)

More than 7,900 eighth graders from across southwest Alabama visited the Mobile Civic Center Wednesday and Thursday for the 10th annual Worlds of Opportunity hands-on career exploration event.

Thousands of Alabama 8th graders experience Worlds of Opportunity from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The students participated in activities relating to jobs that don’t require a four-year degree. Josh Duplantis, executive director of the Southwest Alabama Workforce Development Council, said the career fair featured 128 businesses in sectors such as energy, health care, engineering and technology, making it the largest 3-D career fair in Alabama.

“These kids are exploring the high-wage and high-demand jobs we have available here in southwest Alabama,” Duplantis said. “We want to make sure they get a good understanding of what’s out there because we want them to stay here and develop a good career here.”

New this year was WOO Varsity, an event where high school students could learn about competitive, high-wage career opportunities and meet with potential employers. Students had the opportunity to talk with industry professionals about high-demand jobs, apprenticeships and enter for a $1,000 technical program scholarship drawing.

“We’ve got to grow our own talent,” Duplantis said. “We hope to create a spark and we could not do it without our sponsors like Alabama Power, BASF and ST Engineering — they’re all doing a wonderful job of giving these kids something that’s very hands-on. Our companies understand the need to start early in pipeline development.”

Alabama Power sponsors and participates in the program.

Duplantis said this event is just another example of the positive energy surrounding workforce development and economic development efforts in Alabama.

“If we’re going to meet our demands, we’ve got to have an additional 500,000 workers with a degree or credential by 2025,” Duplantis said. “This is part of meeting that goal.”

To learn more about Worlds of Opportunity or career training opportunities in southwest Alabama, visit

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