Skilled Professions Signing Day Elevates High-Demand, High-Growth Careers
Be Pro Be Proud Georgia – a comprehensive initiative that connects students to post-secondary training and careers within the skilled professions through a comprehensive website and mobile workshop – teamed up with the Cherokee Office of Economic Development (COED), the Cherokee County School District, and Chattahoochee Technical College, to host Skilled Professions Signing Day at The Circuit Woodstock on May 10, 2022.
“Working within the skilled professions is more than just finding a high-wage, stable career – it’s discovering a sense of pride that comes from building something from the ground up,” said COED President Misti Martin. “From nerdy to dirty, we spotlight essential careers that are life-changing.”
Similar to national signing days for athletes, the second annual event celebrated 34 high school seniors representing all six Cherokee high schools for their commitment to pursuing one of Be Pro Be Proud Georgia’s 15 skilled professions, including Automotive, Computer Programming, Construction, Electrical, Health Care, and Welding.
2021 signing day honoree Christian Preiser returned to speak with this year’s honorees about the benefits of working within the skilled trades. After volunteering in the mobile workshop as a Most Valuable Pro (MVP) and graduating from Woodstock High, Preiser turned his passion for electrical work into a profitable career as an apprentice at Hewatt Electrical Contractors.
“I get paid to do what I love and am proud to be working as an electrician – a job that is truly satisfying and making a difference,” said Preiser. “My company is even providing on-the-job training and paying for me to become a certified electrical worker at IBEW Local 613. Be Pro Be Proud Georgia was a major catalyst for my success.”
Construction Ready Vice President of K-12 Zach Fields, a Be Pro Be Proud partner, highlighted the importance of building a strong K-12 pipeline to fulfill Georgia’s growing demand for skilled workers while offering students affordable training options.
“Debt-free post-secondary options after high school are THE answer for thousands of students coming out of Georgia’s public school system,” said Fields. “We have to reach students earlier through robust career pathway programs like CTAE and initiatives like Be Pro Be Proud, which are the foundation for students to make these important career choices.”
In April 2022, Wellstar Health System joined Be Pro Be Proud as its first health care partner, a field that is projected to grow more than 10 percent over the next decade. Of those participating in signing day, six honorees are pursuing advanced technical training in health care-related fields.
“As one of the Southeast’s largest healthcare systems, Wellstar looks forward to having this incredible opportunity to expose students to skilled professions in healthcare and navigate them to a successful career through this innovative program,” said Wellstar Vice President of Strategic Community Development Stephen Vault.
Since launch, Be Pro Be Proud has reached over 20,000 students and has made over 228 tour visits –140 across the state and 88 in Cherokee.
2022 signing day honoree Will Nichelson discovered his career path during a Be Pro Be Proud visit to Creekview High School. “I knew I wanted to work with my hands and our school didn’t have many options,” said Nichelson. “I was asked to help on the mobile workshop in 10th grade and it was cool playing with the simulators. This experience encouraged me to look into welding. I learned that I could go to Chattahoochee Technical College and do welding as a high school student, so I am graduating this year with my welding certifications before I am finished with high school.”
Guest speaker Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Superintendent of Schools for the Cherokee County School District added, “We’re here to help every student prepare for their future, and for many students, that next step is pursuing a skilled professional career. We’re deeply proud of these students for making a commitment to fulfill important roles in our community. We’re also grateful for our partnership with the Cherokee Office of Economic Development, as it has led to more career-focused opportunities for our students like this special signing day event.”