Signing Day in Alabama is a big day in the media and for student-athletes and their families. It’s the day that announcements are made about high school seniors receiving scholarships to play at the next level. But that doesn't automatically mean college.

Now, a Signing Day has started for seniors who have completed craft training and are being awarded real-world jobs.

Alabama high school students who have worked, qualified and earned job offers were announced on May 7.  A ceremony at Mobile’s Brookley Field included those students, their teachers, their new employers and education officials.

The program is named Academy of Craft Training.

When I was in high school, there was a popular class called “Shop.” Students learned useful skills, mostly for personal use in the home shop.

Now, the 2024 version of “shop” is unrecognizable to a former student of the old shop class.

The Academy of Craft Training prepares students for jobs in Alabama’s booming construction industry – quite a difference from my old shop class.

Trades now included in the craft academy are electrical, HVAC, interior and exterior finishes, welding, and plumbing and pipefitting. Other crafts will be added.

There is a running scoreboard on the academy website. Today, it read:

School participation, 75.

Students accepted annually, 750.

Internships to date, 450.

Total Man Hours, 100,000.

Those totals keep rising.

The Academy of Craft Training is an education/industry partnership between the commercial construction industry and the State of Alabama’s Kindergarten through 12th-grade Career and Technical Education System. Its mission is to recruit, educate, and guide high school students for employment opportunities in the construction industry. The goal is to help these students get the education and skills they need to be skilled workers in the industry.

Students have the opportunity to learn directly from construction industry professionals in a workplace-style environment, work as interns with local construction companies, and receive job offers upon graduation – the newly added ‘Signing Day.’  

The Academy of Craft Training expanded from its original Birmingham headquarters to now include a North Alabama campus in Decatur and a South Alabama campus in Mobile. Other locations may follow.

The academy recruits students from more than 75 Alabama school systems, with team members visiting campuses each autumn. During these visits, 10th and 11th graders can learn about ACT’s career-building opportunities. They may apply with a short essay.

Once interviews are complete, around 750 students are selected to participate each year.

On May 7, high school seniors who had completed the program were awarded job offers from employers in their respective industries.

The Academy of Craft Training gives new meaning to “on-the-job training.”

Jim ‘Zig’ Zeigler writes about Alabama’s people, places, events, groups and prominent deaths.  He is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at

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