BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – The 53rd Annual Alabama Skills USA conference is reminding both high school and college students about the sheer number of opportunities all around them. It is about much more than just competition and fun. Organizers want to open kids eyes, and help connect them with business leaders who will allow them to work in a field they’re passionate about.
Whether it be house work, or cosmetology fields, the Career Tech Director for the Jefferson County Board of Education believes the conference is vital in showcasing what Alabama students can do for the workforce.
“We have students from Mobile, all the way up to Huntsville and anywhere in between to somehow them what we do in cosmetology, building construction, video technology, kind of like what you’re doing right here. It gives our business leaders an opportunity to see what our students can do,” said Jefferson County Board of Education Tech Director Bobby Jackson.
Many of the careers or skills kids learn and compete in at the conference are not taught at a traditional four year university, and several students believe these fields are still critical to the country.
“We still need blue collar workers. Electricians and all that stuff, so it’s a great eye opener,” said Skills USA Butler County Career Academy President Terry Cook.
Several more are now realizing there are more opportunities out there than they once believed.
“I originally thought that I was going to be in the health care industry and then I began to see the opportunities with other industries,” said Skills USA High School State President Emily Webb.
Alabama SkillsUSA executive director Lisa Bruce can relate. Her background is in manufacturing which she says is dominated by men. Still she hopes the conference inspires both genders to step out of their comfort zone, and chase their passions.
“It is just an opportunity for kids, for females alike just to show them that they can be just as successful in the world of carpentry or welding or mostly the male dominated field and the same for males. They can go in to the health sciences or the cosmetology field,” said Bruce.
Over 1,000 students are participating in the conference, with 1,700 observers coming to see what the workforce of the future looks like. While competitions ended today, awards will be announced tomorrow and students have another chance to meet potential employers tomorrow morning.
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