Thousands of eighth-graders from around the county are visiting the Mobile Civic Center over a two-day period this week to learn about career opportunities in our area at the Southwest Alabama Workforce Development Council (SAWDC) Worlds of Opportunity.
Sponsored by a host of local businesses and organizations, along with Mobile County Public Schools Career and Technical Education, the event is a hands-on career exploration experience featuring professionals from local businesses in 11 industries: Aerospace and Aviation, Computer and Information Technology, Construction, Energy, Engineering and Design, Healthcare, Hospitality and Tourism, Manufacturing, Shipbuilding and Repair, Public Service, and Safety.
“They’re showcasing their industries to educate students so that they’re aware of what the jobs entail, what requirements – educational requirements, skill requirements – that they need to start possessing now and learning now so they can end up filling these jobs,” said MCPSS Signature Academy Coordinator Kristi July. “We love it because the earlier we can start exposing our students to these industries that are available, that makes the Signature Academy piece in the Mobile County Public School system a little bit easier. They understand why we are having career academies within our high schools and how important it is to be exposed to those experiences earlier on.”
Jacob Gilmore and Brendan Davis of Hankins Middle School were fascinated by robots displayed in the Engineering and Design sector. “I like the programming,” Gilmore said. “I didn’t know they had to record the robots first. I thought they just pointed it to where they want it to go.”
Davis added that he learned something new in the Aerospace and Aviation sector: “I did not know airplanes go up 35,000 feet in the air,” he said.
Both said they had an interest in manufacturing and engineering and design.
Interest is what professionals like Austal Workforce Development Manager Ryan Lee are looking for. If an interest in these industries is sparked now, he said, it can help students chart a path through their high school studies toward a future career.
“It makes them aware of our industry and the types of jobs and skills that we need, which is important because they’re already making decisions, either in the next year or definitely in their sophomore year of high school, that are going to eventually lead to whether or not they’re career or college ready,” Lee said. “Just planting seeds, that’s all it is. Hopefully, we’ll see them again in different CTE-type programs and then water those seeds and cultivate something – cultivate new skills and a better understanding of what jobs in this area actually require.”