High School Career Expo Benefits Economic Development and Alabama’s Future Workforce

Laughter, chatter and excitement filled the air at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex, where 4,500 students turned out for the Alabama Department of Education’s Joint Leadership Development Conference.
The conference was a two-day event on Sept. 23-24 that offered 30 leadership workshops and interactive activities to participating students. It also included a career fair, where students had the chance to learn lessons beyond textbooks for potential career opportunities.
While career expos are important for students, they also can be vital for business, industry and economic developers and the broader community.
This fair was aimed at high school students, many of whom could potentially be working for Alabama industries within the next five years. The event drew the high school students, along with their teachers, career counselors and parents, and focused on preparing students for leadership, career and college success.
So, it was valuable for business leaders to introduce their industry to youth who might not otherwise know too much about them. Although teachers are tasked with teaching skills, it’s part of the business community’s mission to find the skilled students and introduce them to various careers.
The Economic Development Partnership of Alabama is proud to take a leadership position and represent the private industries’ interests in that role.
EDPA worked with the Department of Education to identify several of our Partners to exhibit and enlighten students about rewarding and diverse careers in fields such as automotive, engineering, construction, environment and computers. Those exhibiting were: Alabama Power; Auburn University; Goodwin Mills & Cawood; Hargrove Engineers; Honda; Protective; Regions; Thompson; Toyota and UAB.
Businesses that exhibited were able to introduce their work and their industry to students who are beginning to think about life after high school. Industry also was able to promote the skills needed to be a successful employee.
EDPA continues to champion Alabama’s efforts to prepare a skilled workforce to fill the needs of various industries.
EDPA President Bill Taylor participated in a panel discussion, “Preparing Alabama’s Future Workforce,” with Dr. Philip Cleveland, director of the Alabama Department of Education’s Career and Technical Education and Workforce Development. During the discussion, 250 counselors, administrators & economic developers shared and learned why education is important to economic development and why career tech education is needed to build a strong workforce for Alabama.
“We have to have the whole team on the field to be competitive globally,” Taylor said.
We are grateful to our Partners who exhibited at the career expo. It gave them a chance to talk with students directly about the skills and education needed to enter their particular industry.
We realize that helping our area youth and educators learn about the skills and experience needed by industry to be successful helps Alabama’s future economy.