FINCASTLE. Va. - Thomas Wilhelm, is a 17-year-old graduating senior at James River High School and the Botetourt Technical Education Center.
He and 12 of his classmates are walking out of BTEC with offers for full-time jobs in their trained fields.
"It's never been this way and they have never really congratulated us on our jobs and it's been kind of a normal thing," said Wilhelm.
This is BTEC’s first career signing day.
Thirteen graduating seniors in the welding, auto service and body technology fields have received the necessary industry certifications to start working right after graduation.
"It feels pretty good knowing that many people don't have this opportunity," said Donnie Petty, a graduating senior.
Businesses across the country are facing a shortage in skilled labor workers, according to the Federal Reserve System.
BTEC said it is meeting that need with its apprenticeship and school to work program.
"School-to-work program is when students are in class in the beginning of the year and fine-tuning their skill level or fine-tuning and receiving their certifications and then we find them positions," said Mike Ketron, principal of BTEC.
Wilhelm has a message to the students following in his footsteps.
"Don't let anyone tell you can't do it because you can. And just follow your dreams and work hard and you will get rewarded for it," Wilhelm said.
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