Are your children ready for the workforce?

Shelby County Schools Career Tech Coordinator Rene' Day speaks during a June 26 Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce lunch at the Pelham Civic Complex and Ice Arena. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

Shelby County Schools Career Tech Coordinator Rene’ Day speaks during a June 26 Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce lunch at the Pelham Civic Complex and Ice Arena. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Shelby County Schools are looking to “break the cookie-cutter mold” of every high school graduate going on to a four-year college, the school system’s coordinator of career tech said on June 26.

During a Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Pelham Civic Complex and Ice Arena, Shelby County Schools Career Tech Education Coordinator Rene’ Day said the school system is working to prepare the county’s students for high-demand careers after high school.

“It’s all about looking at a student’s individual potential and breaking that cookie-cutter mold,” Day said. “We need the students to understand that high school graduation is not the end. High school graduation is the means to an end.”

Day said Alabama has a high demand for skilled labor positions, such as manufacturing and health sciences jobs. Workers in Alabama and across the nation currently are retiring faster than their positions can be filled, Day said.

“We are in a little bit of a workforce crisis in America,” Day said. “For every two employees that retire, only one is entering the workforce.”

Health sciences jobs are in high demand to help serve the ever-increasing number of retirees in America, Day said. Thirteen of the top-20 fastest-growing occupations in Alabama require an associate’s degree, skilled trade education or accreditation.

“We need to make sure we are training our kids for the jobs that exist,” Day said.

Shelby County Schools offers career tech training through its My Future program and the Shelby County School of Technology, and partners with the Greater Shelby Chamber and local colleges and universities to offer dual-enrollment and internship programs, Day said.

“We are so fortunate to have a community that truly cares about the future of its workforce,” Day said. “The goal is that every child who graduates from a school in Shelby County – public private, whatever – will have a career.

“At least we hope they will, because we want our economy to continue to grow,” Day added.