Nearly 1,000 teenagers from northwest Alabama learned about dozens of new and in-demand career opportunities Thursday night and Friday morning at Bevill State Community College in Hamilton.
The North Alabama chapter of AlabamaWorks! presented Worlds of Work, a hands-on career exploration event held at locations around Alabama each year. Stephanie McCulloch, assistant director of North AlabamaWorks!, said this was the first time Worlds of Work had been presented in Marion County.
“We’re really excited about it,” McCulloch said. “It’s really engaged the community and the local businesses. We hope this will become an annual event.”
Worlds of Work kicked off Thursday night with “Fired Up for the Future,” a two-hour event giving people in the community a chance to visit with some of the businesses and organizations taking part. Alabama Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington talked to the crowd about the growing number of job opportunities available to teens and adults in Alabama.
“There are a lot of jobs being recruited into the state of Alabama,” Washington said. “We’ve got to make sure we have a workforce that’s prepared to meet the demand of these new jobs that are coming in.”
Friday morning, more than 30 businesses and organizations set up booths and hands-on demonstrations, giving middle school and high school students from Marion and Winston counties chances to learn about job opportunities in construction, automotive, health care, public safety, energy and agriculture. Washington said events such as Worlds of Work educate students on the growing number of good-paying jobs available to them.
“There are a lot of in-demand, high-wage jobs out there,” Washington said. “Students and job seekers don’t necessarily have to have a four-year degree. If they can get a certification or a two-year degree, they can move right into a job and the company will train them.”
Worlds of Work is one of several events organized by AlabamaWorks! to fulfill the Alabama Workforce Council‘s Success Plus initiative, a plan created in 2018 by a group of high-level business leaders from across the state to address workforce shortages in Alabama. The plan offers suggestions on how Alabama can add as many as 500,000 high-skilled employees to the workforce by 2025.
“North Alabama is responsible for 125,000 of that,” McCullough said. “By reaching out to them in the eighth and ninth grades, we want to make sure they are able to make the best choices moving forward and understand the pathways to those high-wage careers.”
Washington said events like Worlds of Work demonstrate the team effort between business and government leaders to fill the needs of new businesses coming into Alabama.
“Alabama is open for business,” Washington said. “We’ve got a workforce that will satisfy any job description for any company that wants to land here in the state.”
The Worlds of Work event in Hamilton was sponsored by Bevill State Community College, Alabama Public Television, North Alabama Industrial Development Authority, Northwest Alabama Economic Development Alliance, Go Build Alabama, Cyber Huntsville, Alabama Power, Tombigbee Electric Cooperative, University of North Alabama College of Business, Alabama Technology Network, CIS Home Loans and Northwest Medical Center. To learn more about Worlds of Work, visit alabamaworks.com.