For the second year in a row, high school students from across West Alabama had the chance to meet local employers and pitch themselves as potential employees.

Nearly 800 high school seniors took part in WOW 2.0 at Shelton State Community College, where they presented resumes and interviewed with employers in the area. The event is an off-shoot of West Alabama Works' "Worlds of Work" expo, an annual event that introduces different trades to both middle-schoolers and high-schoolers.

"We want to create a pipeline for students, so that pipeline is starting as soon as pre-K where working with our educators to teach soft skills in pre-K," said Tara Bullock, communications and marketing coordinator for WOW. "We want to touch their learning process throughout their whole K-12 experience, whether or not they choose college or a career out of college."

Brent Johnson, a project manager for Harrison Construction, was one of dozens of employers who met with students to talk about what types of apprenticeships they have and who they are looking to come work for them. However, Johnson said there is a need to get young people in jobs.

"We like to catch them before they work anywhere else and learn how to do things the way we do them," Johnson said. "We’d rather hire someone who has never had another job before rather than someone who has worked at another construction company."

Donny Jones, executive director of West Alabama Works and chief operating officer for the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, said that in its premiere last year, there were about 150 students who interviewed for jobs. This week, nearly 800 took part.

"There’s a lot of students that don’t understand the variety of jobs that we have, so this setup allows us to do that," Jones said.

Dakota Lucas, a senior at Sulligent High School, was one student looking for work, especially in construction.

"I like putting everything together and helping people have a better place to live," Lucas said.

Lucas said he appreciates having the opportunity to meet people in the field he’s interested in, all in one location. For the time being, he is keeping an open mind.

"There’s a lot of opportunities for other jobs that can be opened up to you," he said.

WOW 2.0 will continue Wednesday with high school juniors.

In addition, WOW organizers have announced that there will be a special signing day on May 2 at Tuscaloosa Career and Technology Academy to honor the students who earned  jobs through the interviews. The event will be similar to Signing Day events for athletes announcing which college team they will play for.

Reach Drew Taylor at drew.taylor@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0204.