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Teens Taking a Gap Year in Huntsville Have New Opportunities

Teens Taking a Gap Year in Huntsville Have New Opportunities

  • Your high school student graduated - now what?
  • These Huntsville workforce development programs could help them plan their next move.
young adults participating in the Open Door program

We can agree that the last year has been a mess, especially for families with children in school. If you have a senior or young adult, you may have noticed a lack of motivation for planning for their future – since, let’s be honest – who knows what the near future holds? High school seniors from 2020 and 2021 may have lacked access to our amazing college and career coaches and are not sure what to do next. But it’s not just our area – college enrollment across the United States is experiencing the largest decline in a decade.

Many students are taking a gap year or working a part-time job while they figure out their next move. Luckily, Huntsville and Madison County have several free or low cost workforce development programs that can help your young adult explore their interests while earning valuable certifications and building experience to put on their resume. Below is a summary of just a handful of those programs.

Huntsville Workforce Development Programs for Recent Graduates


HATCH is an 8-week job training program that combines life skills workshops and industry-standard culinary and hospitality training to empower opportunity youth to lead self-sufficient lives. Participants work with a professional chef, receive one-on-one job coaching, mental health support, and gain personal finance and workforce readiness skills, all while earning a stipend of $1,250! At the end of the program, participants are placed with employer partners who are dedicated to cultivating participants’ skills. The first 8 week class starts August 16th and applications are open through July 30th.

Duration: 8 weeks | Classes meet 4 days a week from 8:30am-3:00pm | Breakfast and Lunch provided
Requirements: The only requirement is being 18-24 years old. Participants must show up ready to contribute, be open to improving each day, and be willing to trust the process.
More Info: View Website | 256-933-3009 |

The Care Center

The Care Center offers wrap-around crisis services in the New Hope area. The programs they offer – GED Classes, Ready to Work Classes, Financial Counseling, and Ignite Your Potential – includes intensive services offered to young adults to provide tangible resources to the community with the desire to help them become competitive within the workforce, obtain and sustain self-sufficiency. This is done by offering an array of and in-house training. Each participant is given the opportunity to tour colleges, attend Ready to work (RTW) training, career development classes, GED prep, financial literacy and employment opportunities for youth and adults.

Requirements: Must be 17-24 years old. Must live in the New Hope, Gurley, Owens Crossroads, or Brownsboro area. Must have a desire for self-sustainability.
More Info: View Website | 256-723-2271

Recent graduates of The Care Center’s “Ignite Your Potential” program.

Christian Job Corps

Learn new job & computer skills – Christian Women’s Job Corps will meet you right where you are, and will walk with you to help you reach your potential and find a meaningful career. We will provide a mentor to walk with you for 6 months after you finish our 10 week semester of classes, helping you set goals and grow personally. Students will receive: Job training, One-on-one GED tutoring if needed, Computer skills, resume writing, interview practice, access to interview-appropriate clothing, help securing an internship. Eligibility for graduates to apply for scholarships, a donated computer, or a car. Application deadline August 16, Open House on August 2 at FBC Huntsville.

Duration: 10 weeks | Classes meet 3 days a week from 8:30 – 2:00 PM, lunch provided
Requirements: Must be 18 years old or older
More Info: View Website | 256-428-9461

Cornerstone Initiative – Jobs for Life Program

CornerStone provides people who are unemployed or under-employed with career assessments, resume writing, interviewing skills, and soft skills – they are all part of this Biblically based curriculum. Each student is paired with a trained volunteer called a “champion” who attends every class with the students and cheers them on toward personal growth. A separate CornerStone initiative also a 12-session financial literacy class that was designed specifically to transfer basic, technical financial management skills. It also seeks to build awareness of financial practices and systems and how to overcome real world pitfalls on the path to financial health.
Duration: 8 weeks
Requirements: Must be at least 18 years old
More Info: View Website | 256-694-5393

Kids to Love – KTECH Program

Skip student debt, stop wasting time, start earning more. KTECH is hands-on, interactive, one-on-one instruction connecting students to jobs. KTECH offers training leading to credentials in mechatronics, soldering and robotics. These certifications are available through their Certificate track. Students can select to Level Up with all of the certifications or select the ones that interest them the most. Today’s industry needs far outweigh the available applicant pool having technical skills required in the advanced manufacturing environment. Earn your certification and claim your career path in a matter of weeks, not years.

Requirements: Students must be 18+ years of age with a high school diploma or GED, must be able to pass a drug test, and other requirements depending on the specific training program.
Cost: $5500, needs-based grants are available
More Info: View Website | 256-880-3455


The North Alabama Homebuilding Academy, or NAHA for short, is a nonprofit organization that provides hands-on short-term programming to individuals seeking to enter into the residential construction industry.

Requirements: Submit to and pass a drug screening prior to beginning the program; are legally allowed to work within the USA; and are 18 years of age or older.
Cost: The program is free to those who are committed to pursuing a career within the construction industry in North Alabama
More Info: View Website | 256-947-2600 |

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snowman craft

Open Door

Since 2012, Open Door has used 1on1 coaching in over 30 partnered work environments to teach clients on the autism spectrum the life skills necessary to join the workforce and achieve greater independence. Through job & life coaching, social skills training and inclusion, they mentor & help grow their social capacity, employability and self-sustainability. Each participant is unique and tailored to their progress plan and work environment to match their ability and improve upon any deficits. Through the Open Door job coaching program, students contribute to the community while learning social and career skills. Their team executes training in a beneficial, neurotypical modeling environment and creates a foundation for students to become employable, productive and independent members of society.

Requirements: Ages 16 and up | Open door serves those with an autism diagnosis that want to become more independent; vocationally, socially or both.
More Info: View Website | 256-202-5289

Village of Promise

Village of Promise is a wonderful option for teens or young adults with children since they can provide one-on-one career readiness skills and have options for daycare and programs supporting the entire family unit. The Next Steps program provides instruction and coursework for all adults including those preparing to take the General Equivalency Diploma (GED) exam, English as Second Language, Adult Literacy, and Work Force Development.

Requirements: Must complete a needs assessment with their Family Advancement Specialist to determine which program/s an individual would be best suited for.
More Info: View Website |256-536-8052

Taking a gap year can be an opportunity – there are so many amazing programs to learn new skills, meet new people, and strengthen your new graduate’s plan for their future.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Audrey Smith likes to think of herself as the “resource queen” of Huntsville and North Alabama. After serving the region as a counselor for the last dozen years, she has taken her experience and wealth of resources to serve as the Program Director for Hatch. Audrey loves connecting people with the resources they need to live self-sufficient and fulfilling lives. You can contact her by email at


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