GALLATIN, Tenn. (WKRN) — As Tennessee races to keep up with the growing workforce demand, a new program is making its way through the Volunteer State.
Be Pro Be Proud aims to inspire the next generation of skilled workers and give them hands-on experience in a variety of fields. According to officials, this mobile workshop is equipped with multiple interactive simulations, including virtual reality displays, to showcase a wide range of skilled workforce jobs.
“The program’s goal is to open new avenues for students by highlighting high-demand, well-paying careers that do not require a traditional four-year degree,” Sumner County Schools stated in a Facebook post. “The workshop offers hands-on learning opportunities and showcases the high-paying careers available in industries such as manufacturing, construction, forestry, agriculture, commercial truck driving and more.”
On Thursday, Oct. 12, Be Pro Be Proud stopped in Sumner County. Students in grades seven through 12 had the opportunity to visit several exhibits, speak with potential employers, and test out machinery.
“Those are things that’s hard for a child to visualize, but if they can do the hands-on activity in this amazing module behind us, they get that opportunity that sparks an interest and then we can, between grades seven and 12, we can build on that and then create a career path for them where they can go out and do some internships and job shadowing so they know what they want,” explained Scott Langford, director of Sumner County Schools.
According to Langford, Sumner County Schools is the number one district in the state for career and technical pathways, and officials are working to expand their connections for students.
“The current skilled workforce is reaching or has already reached retirement age, and the demand for these jobs has never been higher,” said Sumner County Schools’ career and technical education and STEM supervisor, Chase Moore. “With Be Pro Be Proud Tennessee, we aim to change the perception of these valuable career opportunities and give our students a chance to explore diverse professions, such as electricians, welders, commercial truck drivers, linemen, heavy equipment operators, CNC machinists, forestry workers, and more.”
“If you’re not sure what you want to do, if you’re not sure if you even want to go to college, this is a great thing to consider, so I’m really glad we got the opportunity to be here today,” Meagan Lenfert, a senior at Beech High School, told News 2.
So far, Be Pro Be Proud has made stops in seven states and 538 cities across the country. Several more events are planned for Tennessee in October, according to organizers:
- Tuesday, Oct. 17: West Ridge High School in Blountville
- Wednesday, Oct. 18: Dobyns Bennet High School in Kingsport
- Thursday, Oct. 19 and Friday, Oct. 20: Greenville
- Monday, Oct. 23 and Tuesday, Oct. 24: Morristown
- Tuesday, Oct. 31: Music City Center in Nashville