Female Students Gain Awareness at Non-Traditional Career Fair

(BEDFORD) – On Tuesday, December 10th, the North Lawrence Career Center held a non-traditional career fair for female students from BNL as well as the career center sending schools.

The event was a concept from Career Center Director Brad Street and counselor Kristina Baker in an effort to interest female students in the male-dominated courses offered at the career center.

North Lawrence Career Center booth set up at the non-traditional career fair.

“We wanted to let girls know that these opportunities are available for them, not just the boys,” said Baker. “And there are jobs in these fields right here in our community.”

The Lawrence County Economic Growth Council gifted $10,000 over the next three years to support these workforce diversification efforts.

Major industries in Lawrence County (manufacturing, mining, and defense) are male-dominated and non-traditional for women, making the collaboration a no-brainer for LCEGC Program Manager, Heather Nash, who spent 20 years in management roles for the advanced manufacturing sector.

“Exposing young women to career paths they may not typically consider or explore is essential,” said Nash. “Without it, they may never be aware these jobs exist, or that they’re not the first woman to pursue a career in something like precision machining. There are many successful women who have pioneered the way and are more than willing to help the next generation of leaders.”

Former Lt. Governor Becky Skillman kicks off the event as the featured guest speaker.

Former Lt. Governor Becky Skillman opened the program, describing her many roles and accomplishments as well as the obstacles she had to overcome being a younger woman in a man’s world.

“We need more women to address the many needs we have in our community, our state, and our country,” exclaimed Skillman. “It takes hard work and effective communication.”

Students speak with a female employee of Gaylor Electric to learn more about her role as the only female on a 60-person team.

Representatives from manufacturing to defense were also in attendance, presenting to the groups and engaging them in some hands-on activities. Employees from NSWC Crane, Indiana Fabrics Solutions, Inc., Stone City Products, Gaylor Electric, and PDR LLC each provided insight on what it’s like to be a female in these traditionally male-dominated industries and how they got to where they are today.

The last speaker of the day was Dr. Candace Roush, Superintendent for Shoals Community Schools. Dr. Roush highlighted ten recommendations for success, focusing on areas such as servant leadership skills, how to gain credibility as a young woman, and being open to every opportunity that comes your way.

Students were given backpacks along with notebooks, water bottles, stickers and more to commemorate the day.

The NLCC and Baker plan on hosting the fair annually, with a similar event for male students in the spring. Non-traditional industries for males include healthcare, elementary education, retail, and cosmetology.

Overall, the intention is to give every student the best experience and expose them to as many industries as possible so they can exit the career center with a clear understanding of what they do or do not want to pursue as a future career.

About the Lawrence County Economic Growth Council:

The Lawrence County Economic Growth Council is a non-profit, local economic development organization (LEDO) existing to support the growth of Lawrence County Businesses including startup support, workforce solutions, and technical assistance which promotes investment that improves the quality of life for our citizens. Learn more at www.lawrencecountygrowth.com.