WOODSTOCK — In a county where nearly three-quarters of public school students are looking to go to college, business and education leaders are beginning a push to raise awareness of in-demand, high-wage careers that don’t require a bachelor’s degree.

The Cherokee Office of Economic Development on Thursday unveiled an initiative called Be Pro Be Proud Georgia that uses an interactive mobile trailer and website to let students learn about skilled trades that can earn workers high incomes, like plumbing, web development, drafting, truck driving and more. While based in Cherokee County, the program will spread the word about these career options throughout metro Atlanta and across the state, officials said.

“Be Pro Be Proud is a game changer for changing perceptions of the skilled professions and instilling a sense of pride in these essential careers,” said Cherokee By Choice Chairman Mark Goddard. “We are excited to share this awareness campaign with the public and get the interactive experience in front of students, parents, and educators.”

Many of the people in these careers are older and there has been a shortage of younger people training in the fields to replace them, creating a labor shortage is what has traditionally been called the skilled trades.

A part of Be Pro Be Proud is to shed the trade label and refer to these jobs as professions to help young people know that they represent fulfilling, well-paid careers with growth potential, said Misti Martin, president of COED.

First launched in 2016 by the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Industries of Arkansas, the Be Pro Be Proud initiative is not only expanding in Georgia but in South Carolina as well, officials said.

“By combining best-in-class content and engaging simulated experiences, Be Pro Be Proud places students in a position — perhaps for the first time – to imagine themselves in high-skill, high-wage, high-demand positions this effort promotes,” said Andrew Parker, Executive Director of Be Pro Be Proud Arkansas. “We are thrilled that the Cherokee Office of Economic Development has joined us as our first licensee, and we look forward to working with them and their partners to bring a new generation of professionals to the state of Georgia.”

In partnership with the Cherokee County School District, the Be Pro Be Proud Georgia initiative will kick-off operations with Cherokee schools first, then spread across the Atlanta region and beyond.

“We are proud to partner with the Cherokee Office of Economic Development to expand opportunities in the skilled professions and are excited about the opportunity to get Be Pro Be Proud into our schools,” said Cherokee County School District Superintendent Dr. Brian Hightower.

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Managing Editor

Gary Tanner is managing editor of The Cherokee Tribune, Cherokee Ledger-News and Cherokee Life magazine. He has been working as a journalist since 1985.

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