Not all high school seniors are going on to college, but there are still plenty of opportunities for them in the Mobile area.
More than 500 MCPSS high school students learned about some of those opportunities Wednesday, meeting with more than 70 local businesses, colleges, training programs and military recruiters at the Career and Technical Education Career Fair at The Grounds.
“This is an incredible opportunity for business, industry, our partners, and our students,” said Larry Mouton, MCPSS Assistant Superintendent for Career and Technical Education. “We’re focusing on 12th grade students who graduate in just a couple of weeks and don’t necessarily have a post-secondary plan. We’re here to showcase the opportunities for them right here in our area.”
Local manufacturers and industrial operations like Austal, BAE Systems and VT MAE; healthcare companies like Infirmary Health and Providence Hospital; colleges like Bishop State and Coastal Alabama community colleges; and military recruiters from all branches were on hand to talk with the students about the opportunities available to them.
“We’re looking for painters, mechanics, electricians, carpenters, sheet metal workers, pipefitters, welders and a vast number of other crafts,” said Angel Melendez of BAE Systems shipyard. “We have on-the-job training (and) state-funded AIDT training available.
“We’re a global company – the third-largest defense contractor in the world. We have opportunities – entry-level positions – all around the world.”
Many of the companies on hand Wednesday, like BAE Systems, have already been involved in Mobile County Public Schools as partners in its Signature Academies, helping to prepare students for the job opportunities that are available. Wednesday’s career fair was the next step toward filling those jobs, Mouton said.
“These students are coming today with resumes and in these resumes, they’re highlighting the skills that they’ve learned in our academies,” he said. “A lot of these students already know these businesses, because these businesses have been in the academies. Now, it’s raising that relationship to the next level. Now, it’s time for the students to sell the skills they have and for the industries to step up and give these kids an opportunity to gain employment or enter a training program.”
Among the students attending the fair were some of the more than 250 who have earned Certified Nursing Assistant certifications through programs at several MCPSS high schools and career technical centers.
“We’ve spoken to several already who are already certified, so we’re referring them to our website, providencehospital.org, because they qualify for those jobs,” said Tabitha Goodwin of Providence Hospital. “We’re always looking.”
U.S. Coast Guard Recruiter Trevor Vallet said that he’d already met with about 150 students in the first 1½ hours of the fair.
“Most of them don’t know what the Coast Guard does, except the helicopter they see flying over now and then,” he said. “So hopefully I can change that today, let them know what our missions are and what we do.
“Hopefully we see them returning to the office and we can have a sit-down interview with them and try to get them in the Coast Guard.”