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By, Andrew Harrison,

CLEVELAND, Tenn. (WDEF) – An interactive new exhibit could be rolling to a school near you. Be Pro, Be Proud gets middle and high school students interested in the trades. That puts them on a path to land a good job right after graduation. Let’s pay a visit to the Pie Center in Cleveland for a lucrative example of what’s right with our schools.

Sarah Burnett is the Chief of Staff, Director of Membership and Foundation Development for the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

She explains, “Be Pro Be Proud is a cutting-edge workforce development initiative designed to recruit students to skilled trades in jobs in industries like construction, manufacturing, commercial truck driving. These are high need jobs across the state of Tennessee. And we found that there is not a lot of information for students about careers in these industries.

Joseph McDaniel is a Concrete Assistant for the Tennessee Concrete Association.

He says, “I think this is a great option, because as you can see, it’s very real. You got foot pedals down here; you got every control that’s really in a machine like this. I think it’s very accurate to what it’s like in real life. And to see if I can, is there something I can do on everyday basis.”

Burnett continues, ” This mobile workforce unit seeks to correct those issues by taking the message directly to students across middle and high schools in Tennessee. There are 12 different virtual reality career simulations on board so students can go on board test out firsthand these crews for themselves. They can do commercial truck driving by sitting in a and a truck simulator. There’s an excavator on there as well; An array of different industries in jobs for students to try out.”

She concludes, “So, the whole goal of the program is to really raise awareness about these different careers and opportunities. So, kids can go on and get a little taste. See if it’s something I might be interested in; see if it’s something they might want to pursue. We’re catching them on the younger end say eighth and ninth grade. We’re also getting them information about enrolling in CTE program so they can say hey I might be interested in this. And then actually enroll in a CTE program in their high school and learn more about that career. So, this program is all about raising awareness, about different paths for students. There’s more than just one path for students and we want to make sure that they’re aware of that. And know that there’s many ways for them to be successful in Tennessee.”

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