Some Fitzgerald High School students are stepping out of their comfort zones, and into the workforce early. This new workforce development program is aimed at high schoolers, to benefit the community.
Metal gets heated, and eventually joined together. The process has created something knew; something that now has purpose.
"It's one of them skills that you can have no matter what. There's always going to be a need for welders," said Dillon Sumner, a senior.
And for two Fitzgerald High School students, that process is molding them as well.
"I wasn't really expecting to be a welder because I never learned how to weld. When I first learned it, it was okay, but I got more into it," said senior Takeila Robinson.
The high school, area technical colleges, the Fitzgerald-Ben Hill Economic Development Authority and different businesses throughout the community are teaming up.
"A pipeline of employees is the livelihood to their business and I think we're indebted to them for the investment they've made," said Jason Dunn said FBHC Development Authority.
The WELD program pairs up high school seniors likely to stay in the county with industry partners willing to train them and prepare them to enter the workforce.
"They've got positive attitudes. They're team players. They want to win. They are focused on the future," said Jason Gray, Regional Operations Manager
Takeila Robinson and Dillon Sumner are working at Lippert Components welding. Around 40 other students are spread out at other industries.
During their time on the floor, they're developing valuable skills, as managers are often faced with talent shortages.
"It helps improve work ethics a lot. You have to work with people. Communication is a big one. Soft skills. Showing up on time," said Dillon Sumner.
And, while some of that can be taught in a classroom, educators say on the job training is invaluable.
"Once you get a job, you see yourself in a different light. You're making money, you're being productive and you've gained a skill. They just have a lot of self respect now," said Sara Stuart Workbased learning Coordinator.
A newly fused sense of pride that many say is just as valuable to students as it is to the whole community.
Both students plan on working full time at their WELD site after graduation.
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