Students from across Liberty County are getting a look, and a handson approach, at what their futures might hold.
Bradwell institute students tried their hands at virtual welding, virtual truck driving and even plumbing as the Be Pro Be Proud trailer pulled up in front of the BI gymnasium Monday morning. Be Pro Be Proud is an outreach of the Cherokee Office of Economic Development in Cherokee County, and it has now traversed the state, bringing the opportunities of the trades to students since July 2020. “We travel across the state and we encourage students to look into skilled trades as professions,” said Reginald Lagrone, the Be Pro Be Proud tour manager. “There is a major shortage for skilled professionals in our society and in our workforce. A lot of people are retiring or have retired and there is not many going into those fields. So it creates a wide gap. There is a lot of opportunity when it comes to skilled trades.”
The expandable trailer featured a number of different occupations - even a plumbing wall where students could put together a drainage system.
“There are a lot of different training modules for the students to be introduced to skilled trades on,” Lagrone said. A video showed students just how much they can earn a year in those occupations. Some are paying up to $80,000.
Even in the Coastal Empire, there is a demand for those skills, including welders. Lagrone also pointed out that these skilled trades featured on the Be Pro, Be Proud rig are lifetime careers.
“They all offer a service, and these services are ones someone has a need for all the time,” he said. “HVAC and welders and pipefitters — these are services that everybody needs and there is a deficit of skilled trade workers in our economy today.”
Students also got to try their hand at robotics. While robots are increasingly prevalent in the workforce, Lagrone said there are still many jobs and occupations that are going to be done by humans.
“These are careers no one has figured out how to replace with robots yet,” he said.
Lagrone said he talked to an electrician recently who said he chose that field because he wanted a job that was going to provide a residual income. Even during the economic downturn, he stayed busy.
“He’s never missed a day of work,” Lagrone noted. “They never a missed a beat in the HVAC world. These are careers that are not going away but fewer people are going into them, so the need continues to increase.
“We’re just trying to get the word out.”
Be Pro, Be Proud also stopped at the Liberty County Performing Arts Center to introduce middle schoolers to the skilled trades and Liberty County High School. Its next stop is Brantley County High School in Nahunta, and their tour has taken them to Helen and Hiawassee in the northern reaches of the Peach State.
“We’re all over the place,” Lagrone said.