A bill passed in the last legislative session is now being implemented. New career tech programs will be added to wiregrass high schools. The programs will allow students to begin getting college credit or even complete a certificate program at the same time they graduate from high school.
"Right here within four or five counties we're benefitting from close to 1.5 million dollars and they're working with business to see what their needs are... I think everyone benefits from it. They leave high school with a trade of some sort and the business they go to work for benefits from it as well from the education they learned from the high school area," said Paul Lee, District 86 Representative.
The new programs were chosen based on the job opportunities available in surrounding areas.
"The data shows there are several jobs available in the Wiregrass and in Alabama for welders. A lot of those jobs are going unfilled right now because they don't have certified or qualified welders for those positions," said Glenn Maloy, Career Tech Director for Houston County’s Career and Technical Center.
Houston county schools are using the grant money to add dual enrollment welding and industrial automation programs. After graduating students can choose to start a career or carry the credits over to Wallace Community College for further training.
"It's a way for them to earn both credits at the same time and studies have shown that students continue tend to continue post secondary education after they've participated in dual enrollment," said Linda Young, President of Wallace Community College.
When students can see the opportunities early on, they're able to focus on their future goals even as young as high school.
"It really shows you where you want to be I guess you could say and it helps you make decisions better for later on," said Quintin Blackmon, a student at Wallace Community College.
Blackmon had experience in welding while he was a student at Carrol High School ... He now plans to attend Wallace for more training.
"A lot of people like the hands on stuff more. That's how I am, I like to work hands on. I don't mind getting dirty," said Blackmon.
With the new programs and dual enrollment option many students will now have that same opportunity to find the right career path at an early age.
Dothan City Schools/Dothan Technology Center: Aerospace and Aviation, Industrial Systems
Enterprise City Schools: Health Science, STEM Education
Geneva County Schools: Virtual Welding
Henry County Schools: Ag-Wel-Ology, Drafting and Design Technology Dual Enrollment Program
Houston County Schools/Houston County CTC: Industrial Automation, Welding