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Prattville Chamber, Autauga County Technology Center Partner to Close the Workforce Gap

By Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer

In an effort to increase awareness about local businesses, programs and opportunities available to Autauga County Students, the Prattville Area Chamber of Commerce and Autauga County Technology Center partnered on Tuesday, February 11 for their first ever community-wide open house.

The open house, which took place at the ACTC building, was a part of “Career Day,” which is a special event that the ACTC hosts every year in an effort to get students interested in the local job force.

The ACTC provides its’ students with a diverse curriculum which is designed to prepare students for their entry to the workforce or post-secondary education.  Leah Hedgspeth, a counselor and coach at the ACTC, explained the significance of what Career Day and the open house means to students in the community.

“We have about 1,300 students that are currently taking classes here at the ACTC. What we do for career day is allow them to pick the top three companies/programs that interest them the most. After that they get to go to that company’s station that they set up here and participate in interactive, hands-on exercises that really showcases what each job is all about,” Hedgspeth said.

This year, 20 different companies came to the ACTC from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. to participate in the all-day learning experience – some of which included Central Alabama Electric Cooperative, BWS, Prattville Baptist Hospital, Power South and more.

Alabama Power, which was another business present, brought employees TJ Aby, Cody Turner, Greg Keeton, and Jay Johnson to teach students about electrical systems. More specifically, the company taught students about direct currents, alternating currents, electrical and control systems, and intro into robotics.

They had interactive setups that showed the process behind fixing power outages. Moreover, they allowed students to wear their protective gloves, which is what they use when handling the high-voltage power lines.

Other companies, such as Spire, had setups that allowed students to simulate fixing gas pipes, while other businesses such as CAEC had virtual welding stations that students could participate in.

“The open house is a great opportunity for students and their parents to become more familiar with some of the job opportunities that Prattville has to offer,” said Chamber President Patty VanderWal. “This is definitely something that we want to continue in the future.”

The ACTC’s course of study offers classes that provide rigor and relevance for students by linking school-based learning with career-related experiences. Parents, teachers, students and business employees alike had the opportunity to see all that the ACTC has to offer in full force on Tuesday night, culminating to an educational experience for all.