On October 19th, the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, Halifax County Public Schools, and community and business partners hosted the first CTE Showcase and Community Call to Action. The event was focused on engaging parents and community members in learning more about the vast opportunities available through Career & Technical Education(CTE). Careers in technical fields (also called the trades or hands-on careers) are in high-demand across southern Virginia, offering positions that pay competitive salaries and benefits, and provide opportunities for career advancement. Job openings exist today, and are expected to grow over the next ten years.

Halifax County Public Schools and SVHEC offer a wealth of training programs to prepare students and adults (SVHEC) for these hands-on careers. The CTE Showcase highlighted everything from culinary arts and the military to energy careers, welding, and agriculture.

The event started with a kick-off session, bringing everyone together to hear messages about the importance of CTE. SVHEC Executive Director Dr. Betty Adams made the point that CTE is for everyone stating, “Unlike vocational education that was for a few people, CTE is for everybody–whether you’re an adult or a student…whether you want to graduate from high school and go right to work or whether you want to go to a community college or on to a four year university, you can benefit from CTE. What CTE does is combine academic work with hands-on practical, technical skills that will live with you for the rest of your life,” she stated.

J.R. Griffin, President of ComfortSystems USA MidAtlantic represented the employer perspective and remarked on the critical role CTE plays in preparing students to enter the workforce. “Like most of the employers around this community I talk to, and many outside of our community, we’re all having an extremely difficult time hiring qualified individuals to join our team. In the construction industry alone there are over 650,000 open jobs right now and that number is increasing yearly with the retirement of baby boomers.” Griffin went on to share that CTE programs are an important part in preparing individuals for in-demand jobs that exist today and will exist in the future.

Wrapping up the remarks, Halifax County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Amy Huskin discussed the wide variety of CTE opportunities that Halifax County students enjoy. “The programs you will visit tonight will allow you to become fully trained and certified and get a well paying job and have no college debt.” She went on to say the vast CTE opportunities in Halifax County do not exist everywhere, “it’s not something we should take for granted; it’s something we should take advantage of.”

During the CTE Showcase Kickoff session three short videos were played highlighting the benefits of CTE from the perspective of students, parents and employers. Wrapping up the kickoff session, Dr. Adams issued the “call to action” asking parents to engage with business and industry leaders, learn more about CTE program, and take action by contacting a program representative and taking steps to enroll their student.

Following the kickoff session, students, parents, and community members explored CTE training program display areas set up on the SVHEC campus. Hands-on activities, live demonstrations, and information were available for more than 30 technical training programs–all of which are available in Halifax County.