ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Students from across Southwest Georgia showed up at Albany Technical College to learn more about careers in the construction industry Thursday at the 'Careers in Construction' fair at the Carlton Construction Academy.
The fast-growing, good-paying field attracted a new audience.
It's probably the most hands-on career fair that more than 500 middle and high school students from Dougherty, Lee, Terrell, Randolph and Early counties will attend this year, with drilling, welding, and brick-laying demonstrations.
And, for some, maybe even the most inspiring.
"Who can tell me what Sheetrock is?" asked Julianna Matthews, who was leading a drywall demonstration for a small group of female middle school students who wandered over to her booth.
After learning to mix and apply drywall themselves, the students described the technique as "easy" to learn. But, they were most impressed with Matthews.
"She is amazing! She is a really good teacher!" said Adrianna Williams, an eighth-grader at Terrell Middle School.
Matthews is actually a student, in her first year of carpentry school at Albany Tech.
She wants to renovate and sell homes.
"I felt like it would be more beneficial to educate myself and be able to kinda do some of the work myself," said Matthews.
She is fully aware she is entering a field typically dominated by men.
"So, the biggest thing is yes, I have to push myself that much harder to be able to earn my right in this industry. However, there is ample opportunity for everyone," said Matthews.
"There are many job openings in the construction-related area. We get a number of calls from employers local and far away looking for skilled employees," said Emmett Griswold, the Dean of Academic Affairs.
Now, Williams and her fellow young students are waking up to the opportunities for them in construction and said they are now considering working in this industry, where before they had not thought they could.
"Being able to inspire young ladies and show them, yes, we absolutely can. We are limitless. You put the limits on yourself," said Matthews.
The dean says there is a more than 90% job placement rate for graduates of the construction programs at Albany Technical College.
Griswold called the pay in this stable industry "lucrative" with experienced welders making up to $25 hourly, carpenters $20 hourly.
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