Career expo offers hands-on advice to thousands of Lynchburg-area students

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April 19, 2019
View full story in The News & Advance.

Regan Joyce, a 15-year-old freshman at Timberlake Christian School, was one of thousands of area students in attendance Tuesday during the Worlds of Opportunity Career Expo.

Her mission: Learn what careers might be in her future, including gaining a better understanding of lesser-known industries.

“I want to know about more options so I’m not stuck with the same 10 careers that everyone talks about,” she said.

The inaugural event held in Liberty University’s Indoor Track Complex was a joint collaboration between the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance and Virginia Career Works Central Region.

The two organizations began planning about a year ago for the event, which anticipates bringing in between 4,000 and 5,000 middle- and high-school students between Tuesday and Wednesday.

Regan isn’t sure what she wants to do when she finishes high school, but she knows she enjoys science and math, which she believes will be an asset when looking for jobs.

She has never attended a career fair as extensive and broad as the one on Tuesday.

“It’s different because we don’t normally get to see the hands-on things,” she said. “You just hear about what people do but you don’t see what they do behind the scenes.”

Ben Bowman, director of Virginia Career Works Central Region, said his focus always has been to create an easier “school to work” transition for students.

“I think we have failed the students by not providing them good opportunities to understand the high-demand occupations,” he said. “And there are quite a few that may not require a four-year degree.”

Bowman said 70 percent of the job openings in the area require two years or less of college — many in the health care, manufacturing and education sectors.