Approximately 85 local high school seniors were honored at the first-ever West Alabama Regional Signing Day Honoring Career Technical Education Thursday, May 2, at Tuscaloosa Career and Technology Academy.

Lamont Pickens signs on with DCH Health System at Signing Day.

“We’re incredibly proud of these students for not only earning a competitive job or apprenticeship. We’re proud that they’re working at our West Alabama industries, staying in the community to help build its future. These seniors are entering industries with competitive wages, benefits and everyone’s favorite perk: PTO,” said West Alabama Works Executive Director and Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama COO Donny Jones.  

Companies giving apprenticeship and contingent job offers include Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Phifer Incorporated, DCH Health System, Brose, ZF Chassis Systems, Tuscaloosa Joint Apprenticeship Commission Local 372, Alabama Pipe Welders, Aramark, ARD Logistics, Brion Hardin Construction, LAVENDER, INC. and Peco Foods.  

Over seven school systems were represented at the event, with students from Tuscaloosa, Bibb, Hale, Pickens, Jefferson and Shelby counties.

Apprenticeship students were honored at 5:30 p.m. Students entering apprenticeships will train with a company or training organization in a skilled trade, such as welding. Many will also attend a technical school or college as part of the apprenticeship.

Career technical education and Ready-to-Work students were honored at 6 p.m. These students have signed contingent offers to begin full-time employment following graduation. The Ready-to-Work students participated in a semester-long or year-long (depending on school system) course in job training skills. The course is adapted from Shelton State Community College’s Ready-to-Work program, a five-week course to help adults gain employability skills. High School Ready-to-Work came to fruition thanks to Phifer Incorporated and Central High School Principal Dr. Clarence Sutton, Jr.

A portion of the honorees earned their job or apprenticeship offers through WOW 2.0, an event for high school juniors and seniors held April 16-17 at Shelton State Community College. The event is a continuation of West Alabama Works’ annual Worlds of Work (WOW) event for eighth graders. The events help West Alabama students learn about the competitive, fulfilling work opportunities in the region.