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Students learn about job opportunities during Future Connect event at DHS

Students at Demopolis High School learned about the assortment of jobs that could be waiting for them during a Future Connect event with local businesses and industries.

Future Connect is a program aimed at informing students, parents and the community about the variety of career opportunities available.

“We want our students to see high school as the beginning of their future, not just the last step in their K12 experience,” said Connie Davis, Future Connect coordinator at DHS. “We have amazing opportunities available to our students that will help them get started on the road to their future today. Students have the opportunity to take college classes, earn credentials, and get real work experience in the industry they want to pursue in their futures.”

The event held Thursday, May 2, was part of Future Connect known as “Tool Time,” which allows students to explore and get hands-on experience from industry partners.

That same evening, “Occupational Opportunities” was held at DHS where parents and students heard from local industry professionals about career opportunities in the area. Post secondary representatives discussed programs offered at their institutions and scholarship opportunities available through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

To conclude the day’s events, “Pathway Planning” was held in the gymnasium, allowing parents and students one-on-one conversations with post-secondary representatives, industry professionals, and DHS counselors and career tech teachers.

The program is also a value to local industries that are seeking the next generations of employees.

“Our goal is to inform young people about what we do and the opportunities we have,” said David Compton, manager for United Rental Service. “For some young people, a hands-on career is more attractive. I have a college degree, but I love what I do. We hope to attract those type people into our industry and invest in their futures.”

Davis said many local industries and businesses see Future Connect as a valuable program. “We have had an overwhelming response to Future Connect,” she said.

WestRock representatives were on hand to teach students about the local mill and the various careers available there.

“We want to share with them a little about what we do and the end products, but especially teach them about the requirements they’d need to meet in order to fill jobs at the mill,” said WestRock Senior Process Control Engineer Ken Brock.

Darren Anderson, owner of Anderson Electric, said he wants young people to understand the opportunities that exist within the students’ own community.

“There are jobs right here in Demopolis and the pay is better than (the students) think,” Anderson said.

The Demopolis fire and police departments also joined Future Connect. “When kids think of firefighters they see someone who puts out fires, which is true, but we also have divers, ropers, and people certified in the latest technologies. While they would need to have a firefighter background, they could go in a lot of different directions with it,” said DFD Battalion Chief Michael Pope.

Those participating in Future Connect included: H&M Construction, Air EVAC Lifeteam, Army National Guard, Bryan Whitfield Memorial Hospital, Demopolis City Fire Department, Demopolis City Police Department, Anderson Plumbing Heating and Electric, Burkes Mechanical and Electrical, Cemex, Jones Construction, Redi Mix, Sumter Timber, Two Rivers Lumber, WestRock, United Rentals, Alabama Power, Alabama Technology Networks, Bill Mackey Real Estate, Mason and Gardner CPA, Paper Pac, Naheola Credit Union, Regions Bank, Demopolis Career Center, University of West Alabama, Wallace Community College, and the University of Alabama.

Davis said any business or industry interested in participating in next year’s Future Connect program should contact her at DHS or the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce.

(This article originally appeared in the Wednesday, May 15 issue of the Demopolis Times.)

UPDATE: This article was updated May 20, 2019 to include H&M Construction as a participant.