Around 1,000 local eighth-graders got an up close look at real-world career opportunities available in their community during a job fair hosted by the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce Thursday.
This year marked the first time the annual job fair targeted eighth-graders rather than tenth-graders. The goal is to reach students when they’re first beginning to think about life beyond high school and what they want to be, said Susan Peek, success coach at Wallace State Community College.
“By 10th grade, they’re already getting plugged into their career path,” said Billy Troutman, cooperative education director at the Cullman Area Career Center. “We want them to start planning for their future now. This shows them there’s tons of jobs out there where you don’t need a four-year degree, but you do need training.”
From the medical sector to technical positions with local industry, representatives from more than a dozen career fields were on hand to tell students about their professions. Several of the jobs exhibited required just training certification or a two-year associate’s degree, said Peek who also serves as the chamber’s education committee chair.
Cullman Regional Medical Center, Yutaka, Royal Technology and Wallace State Community College set up booths to talk to students. The Alabama Farmers Federation and the Soil Water Conservation District brought their mobile agricultural trailer. Cullman Police Department, Cullman Fire Rescue, Cullman County Sheriff’s Office and the Cullman Electric Cooperative also participated.
“The kids showed excitement, engagement and participation we’ve never seen before,” Peek said. “They see the possibilities out there and realize that without leaving Cullman County, they can find a good job and make money for themselves.”
American Proteins, Wallace State, Topre, the Co-op and Lion’s Club sponsored the event.
“We’re very thankful for everyone who came out, for the sponsors who made this possible and the chamber education committee who worked tirelessly to make this possible,” Peek said.