(Oxford, Alabama) Students from all around East Alabama got a chance to get hands-on with potential careers during the 4th Annual Worlds of Work career exploration event. Over the course of three days, March 12-14, nearly 8,000 eighth graders and eleventh graders converged on the Oxford Civic Center for the event. The students were bused in from every county in the East AlabamaWorks workforce region – Calhoun, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, Etowah, Randolph, and Talladega.

Career options were presented to students by representatives from nearly 100 participating companies in Worlds of Work such as Agriculture and Natural Resources, Automotive and Manufacturing, Communication and Media, Construction, Energy and Utilities, Engineering, Information Technology, Healthcare, Public Service, and Transportation. Students were able to experience being a power company lineman, a truck driver, a welder, and numerous healthcare careers as just a small part of the overall Worlds of Work experience.

The purpose of Worlds of Work is to expose students to the myriad of options that are available to them as career choices in the skilled trades. For the eighth graders, the spark of interest created at WOW can help them to plan out their education pathway that leads to a lifetime of career success. For the eleventh graders, WOW can help them narrow the fields they are already interested in, or even jump start them into a job or apprenticeship program that will give them an advantage upon graduation.

Organizers say that Worlds of Work doesn’t discount or discourage a university education, but strives to make sure every students understands all of the options available to them from skilled trade programs with short term certificates and industry credentials, to community colleges, universities and beyond. In today’s marketplace, workers with high school career tech or post high school skills training are of high value to companies because highly skilled trade workers are in high demand, but in short supply.

Even students planning to go the 4-year college route can benefit from a skilled trade education, and a skilled trade education can often be a great foundation for a higher education degree program in engineering, business, management, and more. Students who choose a career in the skilled trades deserve to be treated with just as much respect as those who choose to attend university.

East Alabama Worlds of Work is a program of the East AlabamaWorks Regional Workforce Council and is presented by Eastman with additional sponsorship by Go Build Alabama and Alabama Power. Platinum sponsors include Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, Spire, and Jacksonville State University. Gold sponsors are Region Bank, Sunny King Automotive Group, and the City of Oxford. Silver sponsors are BR Williams Trucking, Southwire, Gadsden State, New Leaf Marketing, Regional Medical Center, Littleton Electric Service, Wellborn Cabinet, TempForce, and Kronospan. Bronze sponsors are Coosa Valley Medical Center, Hurst Construction, Associated Builders and Contractors, Anniston Water Works and Sewer Board, Associated General Contractors, Ra-Lin Construction, Bridgewater Interiors, WM Grocery, Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association, Heflin Industrial Development Board, Ironworkers Skills Institute, Webb Concrete and Building Materials, and Alabama Poultry and Egg Association.