CRESTVIEW — Local students had the chance to start their careers prior to graduation last week.

Crestview High School has three students graduating in the Electrical/HVAC Program and there are three students from Laurel Hill in the Carpentry Program. The Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce held a job fair on Thursday for the students.

“We have tried to be very proactive in trying to bring some type of career technical education back to the school system,” said Alan Baggett, executive vice president of the Building Industry Association of Okaloosa and Walton Counties. “We are starting to see the fruits of our labor.”

Baggett said these kinds of programs are important because of the lack of people to do the work.

“The challenge is ‘Who do I hire?’” Baggett said. “This is setting the groundwork for the future. If you were to take any of those business cards of builders and ask what their number one need is, it’s ‘I need somebody to work.’”

Baggett said spending time in the programs during high school is beneficial to the students.

“They’re learning the trade,” said Baggett. “When you teach a trade like this, it’s like riding a bicycle. You’ll never lose that information. ”

Baggett said the industry, as a whole, supports what is trying to be done for students.

“The average worker in the industry is 59-years-old,” Baggett said. “We’re trying to find a way for businesses to get good employees. The openings are there. Our whole goal is to make sure these kids succeed and get a good job.”