Students Have Fun on Simulators to Get a Taste of Reality
Remember the first time you used an electric drill? Went up on a scaffold? What was it that convinced you that you wanted to be a technical professional? Wouldn’t it be a boon to be able to see and feel what it’s like to drive a truck, weld metal, or other skills, before deciding on a profession?
Be Pro Be Proud is a workforce development initiative introducing America’s students to technical careers through virtual reality experiences. Be Pro Be Proud works to connect interested students to resources, training and employment opportunities in the construction, manufacturing, transportation and utilities sectors. With operations in Arkansas, Georgia and South Carolina and impending launches in North Carolina and Tennessee in Fall 2022, more than 178,000 students have said “YES!” to check out careers in skilled trades, and 67,000 students registered for more information about beginning their own technical career through training and jobs. Discussions are underway to start Be Pro Be Proud programs in several other states, with the hope of a total of 8-10 states by the end of 2023.
While starting in 2016, Be Pro Be Proud was incorporated in 2022 to guide and support customized state programs with best practices, digital resources, fundraising strategies, and more. The inaugural Be Pro Be Proud National Conference was held in Bentonville, Arkansas during June of 2022, and hosted leaders in industry, education and government. The conference focused on how to launch a Be Pro Be Proud state program, as well as support for operational state programs.
Typically approached by Chambers of Commerce, business development, state departments of labor, the Be Pro Be Proud program works with each state to customize the mobile workshop (or more than one workshop in several cases) depending on what skills are needed in each state.
For example, in Arkansas, the two workshops are on the road about 200 days out of the year, traveling to 264 school districts attempting to reach as many students as possible each semester. The demand in Arkansas required the construction of a second Mobile Workshop to adequately serve the state and cut down on wait-times schools experienced. Operational efforts in Georgia and South Carolina are experiencing similar levels of interest.” The career attracting the most student interest in Arkansas is welding, while in South Carolina, welders and electricians are becoming sought-after professions.