Some seniors in Walker County received job offers on Thursday at the Walker County Center of Technology — weeks ahead of graduation.
Seniors from Walker County and Jasper City schools who attend WCCT had the opportunity to interview with a number of companies Thursday. Walker County Career Coach Shawna McCullar said 74 interviews occurred, and some students were offered jobs or apprenticeships.
"This is a great opportunity for our students," McCullar said.
Representatives from King Kutter Inc., Hardy Corporation, Saiia Construction Company, Capstone Rural Health, Walker Rehabilitation Center, Rehab South, and Ridgeview and Ridgewood Health Services conducted the student interviews.
Amy Boshell, the workforce development coordinator for WCCT, called many area businesses to see if they would be interested in participating in an interview day, and there was such an encouraging response that WCCT may host another interview day in the coming weeks.
"I feel like we're the bridge for the gap between the industries and our students, whether they're going on to college or wanting to come out and go straight to a job," Boshell said.
Boshell and others at WCCT helped to prepare students for the interview process beforehand by teaching interview skills, offering resume assistance, and providing professional clothing to those in need.
"I love that these companies are going to hire some of our students. It makes me excited," Boshell said. "That's why I'm here. That's why I do this."
Brandon Harrison of the Hardy Corporation that provides commercial piping, plumbing, heating and air, and other services, interviewed many students on Thursday and said the interview day was critical for students since COVID-19 prevented businesses from being able to connect with students often during the school year.
Harrison said companies are preparing for a shortage of employees in various industrial careers.
"We're in trouble. We've got about an eight- to 10-year gap to fill," Harrison said. "You've got all these people who are retiring, and you've got these people in the middle that were not trained. The youth, they're the future. We need them."
Delissia Workman of Saiia Construction Company also interviewed students on Thursday and said she interviewed some strong candidates for positions with the civil construction company.
"I think it's very valuable," Workman said of the interview process. "It helps them with their interviewing skills but also, not everybody wants to go to college when they get out of school. You've got employers like us that are ready to get new people in there that want to grow with us."
Seniors Kane Softley of Oakman High School and Emmanuel Clay of Jasper High School both agreed the interview day helped them prepare for securing a job after high school.
"It's definitely a big step, a giant learning experience for me. I definitely needed it," Softley, a welding student, said.
Clay has been studying HVAC at the center of technology and said he doesn't have the financial means to attend college, but being able to interview with companies provided him the opportunity to possibly graduate and go straight to work.
"It was very laid back, very relaxed. I didn't really feel any pressure," Clay said after doing an interview. "They asked questions that I knew how to answer, and I gave answers to the best of my ability."
WCCT Director Chris McCullar observed from a distance as multiple seniors were interviewing and said he is proud for them to have the opportunity.
"Several will get job offers today. That's what we're all about is trying to provide pathways and opportunities for students, and then, hopefully, help them get a job in the area they want to be in," he said. "They're dressed very nice, very professional. I can tell by looking at them that some of them are very nervous, but it's a very good experience."
In addition to student interviews being offered on campus, the Walker County Center of Technology will also host a signing day in the coming weeks where seniors will be offered industry jobs.
For more education news from the Daily Mountain Eagle, visit http://www.mountaineagle.com/education.