Central AlabamaWorks donations expand Lowndes Career Tech students’ horizons

Published 6:29 pm Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Lowndes County high school students gathered at Central High School on Dec. 14 to see five virtual reality headsets donated to the Lowndes Career Tech Center by Central AlabamaWorks and learn about career opportunities with Hyundai Motor Manufacturing of Alabama as part of the Modern Manufacturing Pilot Program.

“We’re teaching high school kids basic manufacturing skills and ready to work, production, quality, things like that so that when they graduate, they’re prepared to go into the workforce and manufacturing, primarily in the automotive sector,” said David Niesen, Modern Manufacturing Project Manager for Central AlabamaWorks. “We provide [schools] the tools and the curriculum and we help partner them with industry to make sure they have everything they need to teach [students] these skills.”

Hyundai Human Resources, Employment, and Performance Management Specialist Lane Hayes addressed students from Central High School Hayneville and The Calhoun School and described the auto manufacturer’s hiring process as well as opportunities for graduates to start a career earning $17 an hour right out of high school.

Hayes told students one young man who contacted him to say, “I’m ready to work.” That student, already 18-years-old, completed Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT) at night during his senior year, graduated high school on Friday, and started work at Hyundai the following Monday.

“We’ve hired a lot of other high school students between then and now,” Hayes said. “Another one will start in January. She just turned 18 and she’s on my next approvals to be hired list. “We’re always looking, we’re always expanding. Throughout the last 18 years, we have consistently been on the forefront of progression. With electric vehicle models, that’s going to open up our headcount and a lot more opportunities.”

Career Technical student Brianna Lee attends classes in the Modern Manufacturing Program. While listening to Hayes, she learned the requirements for joining the Hyundai team.

“I learned that when you first get out of school, when you turn 18, all you need to [be hired] by Hyundai is a GED or high school diploma, to pass AIDT and then you can apply at Hyundai,” Lee said.

Lowndes County Career Technical Education Modern Manufacturing Instructor Dan Davis said hearing from industry partners like Hayes helps students envision careers outside the scope of what they see within their local communities.

“We had Hyundai come out to spark their interest,” Davis said. “Hyundai has been in the area for a while, but we have never actually had them come into the school. Hopefully this will spark student’s interest in auto manufacturing so they can be able to join the workforce.”

Central AlabamaWorks, a non-profit organization, works throughout central Alabama to facilitate a system for providing business and industry with jobseekers who have received education and training aligned with their needs.

The organization has invested more than $50,000 in equipment and training into the Lowndes Career Tech Center and plans to invest more in the coming year through industry partnerships.