PEARL ― Area eighth graders are invited to be part of what promises to be one of the fall’s most informative and exciting events.

Sponsored by the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation and FORGE (Family Organizations Recruiting Great Employees), the FORGE Your Path Career Expo will highlight careers in construction, manufacturing, industrial maintenance and energy. The event is slated for Oct. 27 at the EMCC Communiversity and is free to the first 1,000 eighth grade students from Clay, Lowndes and Oktibbeha counties.

The Expo is part of MCEF’s Building Futures initiative aimed at ensuring the state’s need for more craft professionals is met by qualified Mississippians who have graduated from one of the state's accredited career and technical education programs.

“This is one of the biggest days of the fall,” said MCEF president Mike Barkett. “The reach of this event will take us to new heights by broadening career horizons for students who will fill the 80,000 craft positions needed in Mississippi.”

FORGE Your Path Career Expo will be a unique opportunity for students to interact with some of the top craft professionals and employers in the Golden Triangle. Participants will experience hands-on skill demonstrations and see the latest tools, equipment, and technologies used in modern industries.

Leading the Expo will be representatives from large contracting firms, manufacturing companies, businesses, and career and technical education centers, who will showcase skills taught in Mississippi’s high school and community college CTE programs.

By increasing students’ awareness, organizers hope to boost enrollment in CTE programs and build a pipeline of industry professionals to support Mississippi’s workforce development needs.

Tours will be held Wednesday, Oct. 27 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. for groups of 15 students, and each tour will last no more than two hours. A chaperone must accompany each group.

“We are hopeful that the FORGE Your Path Career Expo will serve as a catalyst for recruiting the next generation of craft professionals,” said Barkett. “It’s going to be an action-packed day with the potential to change a student’s life forever. Eighth graders living in the Golden Triangle are encouraged to come be part of the experience.”

The Expo coincides with National Careers in Construction Month in October. Led in Mississippi by MCEF, the annual, month-long initiative focuses on statewide efforts to combat shortages of craft professionals by ensuring that more students have access to modern, high-quality CTE training programs.

For more information, contact Dianna Zendejas at dianna@mcef.net or 601-605-2989. Students who participate in the Expo will receive T-shirts, backpacks and safety glasses.

The mission of the non-profit MCEF is to promote careers, recruit capable individuals and train a quality workforce for the construction and manufacturing industries in the state of Mississippi. MCEF also offers workforce training and credentialing in construction, industrial maintenance and manufacturing trades. Learn more at http://mcef.net.