Dothan High School’s Alexzia Bradley interlocked her hands and pressed downward until she heard a mannequin emit a distinctive click.
She had just completed a CPR compression.
Bradley and several other seniors from Dothan and Northview high schools received potential glimpses into their futures when they attended a job fair on Northview’s campus Monday. Business and education leaders organized the event in an effort to pair this year’s graduates with summer jobs or entry level positions should they opt not to attend college immediately.
“We had 37 businesses show up, career-oriented businesses that kids can come to straight out of high school and start a career,” said Joey Meigs, Dothan City Schools’ career-technical director and Dothan Technology Center principal. “There are kids that go to school and work, and that can lead to a (full-time) job within that company.”
According to statistics from the Dothan Education Foundation, between 40 and 45 percent of DCS seniors do not plan to attend college immediately after graduation. With labor participation rates already high and unemployment hovering near record lows, some business leaders believe high school seniors serve as an untapped labor source in a growing economy.
Even though employers may have been offering entry level positions, many offer opportunities for advancement. Flowers Hospital recruiter Hannah Glover said many recent high school graduates serve as patient care technicians while attending nursing school – something the all-day nature of the medical industry easily accommodates.
“We do have part-time and full-time jobs, and we work with their schedules. We know they’re in school, and we’re constantly scheduling around this test or that test,” Glover said. “We’re always hiring for these patient care techs, and that’s something these students can do.
“Our ultimate goal for them is to advance their career and get out of that entry level job. This can get them the experience they need to ultimately get into those roles.”
Recently, 11 DTC students passed their patient care technician certification tests, Meigs said.
For Delvick McKay, City of Dothan’s personnel director, the fair offered a chance to encourage students to pursue careers in government, which provide security and good benefits.
“We are the fourth-largest employer in this region, so we have a vested interest to create the kind of workforce that’s going to sustain our city operations for years to come,” he said. “(We) also give kids the exposure they need to look at government as a viable career option. Certainly we want them to get educated and live their dreams but also (there are) opportunities in their own community.”
Ryan Smith, a Dothan High student, said many businesses touted chances to advance in their fields through a strong work ethic.
“If you give all your heart into it and do everything they ask, over time you’ll proceed higher,” he said. “I think that’s the biggest thing -- for them to tell you what’s coming up in life. I think that’s a big lesson.”