Works expo aims to inspire teens

Area high school students met potential employers during Friday's work expo.
Photo Submitted by Fatiah Caldwell.

Leon County hosted its 4th annual career expo Leon County Works Friday at the Tucker Civic Center.

More than 600 high school students were in attendance to learn about different service industries. The event featured over 130 exhibitors from different service jobs and careers.

The closing program included remarks from Leon County Commission Chair Jimbo Jackson, Mayor John Dailey, Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna and others who have pursued technical careers.

A few of the exhibitors in attendance were the Tallahassee Police Department, Leon County EMS, Tallahassee Fire Department, StarMetro, Walgreens, Wells Fargo and each of the military branches.

This regionalized event attracted students from Wakulla, Gadsden and Leon counties. Students were able to learn about different trades and job opportunities after high school, including welding, cosmetology, carpentry and more.

“My favorite part of this event has been being able to go around to the different tables and see what’s out there for me after I graduate,” stated Briana Bronner, a sophomore at Rickards High School.

The county hopes that programs like the expo can help fill the gap between the workforce and available jobs.   

“About four years ago, the county saw a gap in workforce development from students coming out of high school,” Christina Paredes, director of the Leon County Office of Economic Vitality, said.

“This event is to help the youth understand that while going to a traditional four-year college is an option, gaining employment in the workforce through a trade is also an option for them,” said Paredes.

The more than 600 students in attendance were able to receive advice from adults in the workforce. Many talked that the crucial need for individuals in the trade and customer service-based industries.

“We employ people directly out of high school or students still enrolled in high school looking for their first job,” said Shatoya Donaldson, a Walgreens representative. “A lot of students don’t realize how much money can be made by working your way up in positions.”

At 1:30 p.m., Alicia Rainwater presented “Bridging the Multi-Generational Gap: Meet the Future Talent,” which focused on specific strategies to attract, motivate, and retain workforce talent. Her presentation spoke on the importance of networking locally and events such as the Works Expo to attract young minds. She told the students that they are the next generation, so it is imperative that we teach them well.

 For more information on the Works Expo visit the website.