Paula Potter, principal of Ben Franklin Career Center, which allows high school students to obtain certification in everything from plumbing to pre-nursing, said that while the state is promoting career exploration at a younger age than ever before, it doesn't mean educators are swaying students away from college.
At Ben Franklin, Potter teaches a "college and career-ready" method.
"I would never propose not going to college, but I just think, as adults, we need to look at all opportunities available to kids today, because the world is changing," she said. "I think it only empowers the kids -- to have both skill sets. Let's face it, when kids go to college, there's quite a bit of expense associated with that, and this allows them to get a part-time job that's better than entry-level.
"I don't think we should ever label a kid as going to college or not going to college."
Potter and the WVMA are working to debunk stigmas associated with vocational learning.
"This industry is for people good at math and computers and technology," Pack said. "People think of manufacturing and think heavy, greasy, dangerous -- but today's jobs are mostly computer-based."
Potter said she talks to her students every day about the stereotypes associated with not going to college.
"It's hard to change engrained ideas that people have about this type of schooling. Students get a wonderful experience at career and tech centers, but it needs to be conveyed in a more positive light," Potter said. "They're making more money, they're employable and they're getting accepted into college."
The WVMA will host its first "Manufacturing Extravaganza" on Nov. 16, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., in West Virginia State University's student union.
The event is targeted at middle and high school students and will feature businesses such as DOW Chemical Co. and NGK Sparkplug, talking about employment opportunities. There also will be up to $3,000 in giveaways.
For more information, follow ManuPathWV on Twitter or visit the Manufacturing Pathways Facebook page.
Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.