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Read the full article from News Channel 5 HERE

GALLATIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — In a bid to prepare young students for the world of trade careers, Sumner County Schools has introduced an exciting initiative aimed at bridging the impending skills gap in the workforce. 

As the current skilled labor force approaches retirement age, this pioneering program seeks to revolutionize the perception of job opportunities for the next generation.

High school students in Sumner County are now stepping into unconventional classrooms.

Inside a fully-equipped tractor-trailer, students find themselves immersed in a virtual realm, where they can explore career paths such as truck driving, electrician work, or becoming a lineman. 

This mobile workshop serves as the gateway to their future, allowing them to test-drive potential careers. One student learned how to excavate a tree and dig it out in the workshop. Hear from her and see how it works in the above video. 

For another student, Angel Ramirez at Gallatin High School, the experience has been life-changing.

Ramirez has decided to forgo a traditional college education to pursue a career in welding. 

"I have my principal machining teacher, Dave Barker, and he really makes it interesting in the welding class, and we do different projects. We weld, stick weld, MIG weld, TIG weld, all the welds, and I just love the class," said Ramirez, who is considering enrolling in the TCAT in Hartsville for welding.

Sumner County Schools is collaborating with multiple partners like Meta and the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce to introduce students to diverse career pathways through the Be Pro Be Proud Tennessee program.

This program has officially launched in Sumner County. This initiative is timely, as the nation grapples with a shortage of skilled workers.

Scott Langfield, Director of Schools for Sumner County, stressed the importance of such programs in meeting the demand for skilled labor. 

"We have a huge need for heavy machinery operators, people with CDL licenses, linemen, and various technical pathways like welding. These are in high demand, and high school graduates can earn between $25 to $35 per hour with full benefits, providing a solid foundation for a rewarding career," Langfield said.

Langfield said it's significant to prepare students for diverse career choices that will lead them to successful futures. 

Sumner County Schools have earned recognition for leading the state in career and technical education pathways, further enhancing their standing as pioneers in preparing students for tomorrow's workforce. The district has also taken the lead in fostering STEM education in the state.

In a world where skilled workers are in high demand, Sumner County Schools' innovative approach to education brings hope for students seeking alternative career paths and an opportunity to contribute to a flourishing job market.