CrenshaWorks: Bridging career gaps in Crenshaw County careers

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

The second annual CrenshaWorks hiring fair was held April 24 in the Dei Center at Luverne United Methodist Church. Organized by Crenshaw County Career Academy in collaboration with Southeast Alabama Works (SAW) and the Crenshaw County Soil and Water Conservation District (CCSWCD), Crenshaw County students and adult job seekers had an opportunity to explore various career paths. 

Alabama Power Representative, Mary Katherine Pittman, who manned a booth at the event,expressed admiration for the attendees, particularly highlighting the exceptional qualities of the local high school students.  

“I must say, you all have great high schoolers that are so kind,” Pittman said. “They all seemed genuinely happy to be there and it was so refreshing. They asked good questions and lots of students were interested in engineering, which is awesome to hear. I love seeing so much ambition from a small town.”

The annual event aims to bridge the gap between graduating high school students and potential employers by offering a platform for interaction and exploration of various career paths. Employers from a diverse range of industries provided overviews of their companies, showcased employment opportunities and offered insights into a typical day on the job.

Ashley Catrett, who serves on the CCSWCD board and as the CTE Director for Crenshaw County Schools coordinated the event and employed the help of others this year to expand and include more career areas, more student job seekers and also adult job seekers.

Haley Kilcrease, college and career coach at Crenshaw County Public Schools, said the hiring fair can play a significant role when it comes to empowering students with diverse career options. According to Kilcrease, the event assists students in making informed decisions about their post-graduation plans, whether it involves pursuing further education at college or entering the workforce directly.

“This hiring fair is important to our seniors so they feel excited about the opportunities available to them for their life after high school,” said Kilcrease. “There is not one path to finding ‘success.’ We want all students to leave high school confident and driven to meet their future goals regardless if that is in our workforce or continuing their educational goals at the college of their choice. This hiring fair allows our students to speak one-on-one with dozens of potential employers all in the same place, network and ask questions to find the job best suited for their skills. We look forward to this event each year for not only our students but also for the impact it can make on our community and local industry.”

The hiring fair featured morning sessions focusing on industries like agriculture, food, natural resources, manufacturing, distribution and financial literacy. Afternoon sessions delved into opportunities in healthcare, business, marketing, food and beverage among others.

SAW, a 501(c)(3) non profit organization, plays a pivotal role in advancing workforce development initiatives throughout the county and region. With a primary goal of linking residents of Southeast Alabama with employment opportunities and promising career paths, the organization provides essential assistance to both employers and job seekers.

Kathy Plowden Smyth, rural workforce coordinator at Southeast Alabama Works, discussed the significance of initiatives like CrenshaWorks. 

“This is our second year of CrenshaWorks,” Smyth said. “We are pleased we could devote a portion of the job fair to adult job seekers and we had some good adult participation. Adult job seekers and students interested in finding a summer job, co-op opportunities or even full time employment after graduation were encouraged to bring a polished resume and to be prepared for a casual interview.” 

For more information about the event or opportunities in the region,visit www.southeastalabamaworks.com and explore the resources available under the WOW tab.