Did you know that only sixty-six percent of students go to college? If the remaining thirty-four percent of students who did not attend college went to trade school, there wouldn’t be a crisis in the shortage of skilled labor jobs. Students should consider going to trade school rather than a four-year university because college is not a fit for everyone, the cost of college is extremely expensive, and there are great career opportunities outside of college.
Currently in the United States, there is a shortage of skilled workers and many unfilled jobs. Most students who graduate high school automatically think that college is next, without considering any other options. Employer demand for labor is much greater than the supply of workers in the United States today. “Across America, there is an immediate need for skilled workers” confirms Thomas Malott. Several different types of employers, such as manufacturing and construction firms that need a skilled labor workforce, are struggling to find employees to fill their open jobs. There are thousands of obtainable skilled labor jobs up for grabs. Most high schools in the United States and their students’ parents are encouraging young people to pursue a college education after high school. Some students may even feel pressured to go to college because of this, when they are really interested in pursuing a different career path. Many high schools have phased out their “shop-classes” and other classes that might encourage students to consider trade school.
Although a college education at a four-year university is a great idea for most students, others should consider going to trade school; a four-year college education may not be the right path for them or what they want to do with their life. Mike Rowe, a television show host who advocates for the skilled trades, asserts that “unemployment rates for college graduates are at an all time high, meanwhile, there is a shortage of skilled tradesmen” . Rowe discusses how there are other options besides college, and why it is important not only for the individual, but to society to consider these alternative options. He emphasizes that some of these options may even be more beneficial in the future. Whether it is coming out of trade school with a job or coming out of trade school with no little to no debt, there are profitable results of trade school that may not come with a four-year college education.
Many students who attend a four-year university find themselves unsure of what they want to do or major in and often end up drowning in student loans and college debt without having a job after college. According to Mike Rowe, “There’s real opportunity right now for anybody willing to take the time to learn a skill or master a trade”. With the current and severe shortage of skilled labor workers in America, it is almost guaranteed for an individual who has graduated from trade school to obtain a steady job prior to finishing that trade school. College graduates often have a hard time finding a steady job right out of college. This adds extra stress and takes up time when these young people could be working and earning money. Also, there are a lot of other college graduates looking for the same jobs where there are limited positions available, whereas in a trade career, there are enough ready and available positions. Part of the reason why there are many available skilled labor positions and less skilled labor workers, is because as older workers start to retire and stop working, there is no one to take over their jobs, leaving these empty skilled labor jobs.
Michael Sobkowiak writes that many employers know the value of a degree from trade school. These companies know that with a trade school degree comes certain skills such as “hands-on” and “know-how” experiences. These skills and experiences are noteworthy and outstanding improvements compared to a four-year university education. Jody Ahern, of Driver Personnel, exclaimed, “We are very excited about the success of your Commercial Truck Driving Program. A lot of work, time and effort goes into the success of each student. Great Job!” This quote is from the New Castle School of Trades’ testimonial section where companies share success stories of trade school graduates. Several of these testimonials from trade industry companies who hired trade school graduates contain nothing but positive feedback about graduates and their exceptional work ethic, talented skill sets, and valuable knowledge.
Besides these benefits of no debt or only a small amount of debt and an almost guaranteed career, there are also several more considerable and unique beneficial reasons to go to trade school. One of these benefits is a structured course of study. This is an aspect of trade school that can often be overlooked. On the job training can create helpful hands-on skills, but it is not as productive as trade school or an apprenticeship because students are trying to learn from coworkers or possibly a mentor rather than follow a set program. Learning on real job sites can be very limited because the chances are that the student will mostly be gathering materials for coworkers or mentors instead of doing the work and learning the process. When attending an actual trade school or apprenticeship to learn these skills, students are being instructed by a real teacher who is also an industry professional. In addition, these programs are based on industry standards and requirements. These professionals will provide an education full of lessons in both theory and application in a comprehensive way. This innovative way to study will ensure that future workers learn all of the instruction necessary for their trade. If high school students are even considering a construction job, or a labor related job that colleges supply degrees in, it may be a better choice to pursue an education in trade school rather than go to college for a degree while learning a trade on a job site prior to graduating college.
Another benefit of attending trade school is the affordability. In the video by Mike Rowe, he also discusses the affordability of trade school as another reason for high school students to consider going to trade school instead of a university. The cost of education is a very considerable difference between a trade school education and a four-year university education. Some people might argue that there are many different scholarships that students can apply for and be awarded. Although these scholarships can provide a buffer and some relief to the cost of college, the cost even with scholarships, far exceeds the total cost for a trade school education. At a university, a bachelor’s degree has an average cost of $25,000 to $50,000 each year. Multiply that price by four years of school and there’s a college price tag of $100,000 to $200,000! This price for attending college does not include costs for room and board, food, and other amenities that add costs. Also, if a student chooses to continue school to acquire a masters degree or higher, he or she is adding more and more money into the cost of the education. In America, the price of a college education is rapidly rising as time goes on, making it even more difficult financially for people to attend college. It is much more expensive now to earn a bachelor’s degree and complete a college education than it was ten and even, five years ago. In 2015, the graduating class broke the record for the highest and largest amount of student loan and debt from attending college. All around college is extremely expensive and not affordable or reasonably priced for many students in America and their families.
Trade school graduates are not making much less than college graduates when it comes to salaries. The average starting wage for a labor job is around $42,000. That is just starting out, so as skilled workers keep working and doing more jobs, their income will increase. That salary is actually just below the national average of yearly income for the average American family. Many people will say that people are unable to make enough money as a skilled labor worker. They must not realize that, depending on the job, the average starting wage for a skilled labor worker is only a couple thousand lower than the average starting wage for a college graduate. The average entry level salary for college graduates is $45,000, which is only about $3,000 more than the average skilled worker salary. People who believe skilled trade workers make a lot less money may need to do some more research.
Attending trade school may not only be beneficial to the student, but also to the country. As mentioned earlier, there is a severe lack and shortage of people in the skilled workforce. Some of these jobs lacking employees include construction and manufacturing among many others. Having a hard time finding quality skilled labor workers is a problem affecting over eighty percent of businesses today. In America, there are hundreds of thousands of available jobs in skilled labor fields. Frank Werner writes about the shortage of workers in the construction industry and explains that, “the construction industry is in the midst of a skilled workers shortage across all lines of work–skilled workers have left the industry as a result of economic downturn, an aging workforce, and insufficient pipeline of younger workers.” Werner asserts that one of the reasons workers are leaving is because younger workers are not coming in to work in these trades. The operation is struggling to gain more workers, and because of this, they are losing some of their current workers. The repercussions of this shortage are being felt by the whole nation. For example, several building industries are suffering the consequences because they are not finishing their projects in time or it is taking them too long to complete their projects due to lack of workers. If some jobs did not have enough workers to complete the tasks, they may have been cancelled, which was detrimental to several companies.
Different programs have been founded to provide education and jobs to people who want to pursue skilled trade careers. Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), a trade association representing construction companies, said it’s member companies invest millions of dollars into workforce training. Based in Washington D.C., ABC is focused on construction and how they can train and invest in people to work in the construction workforce. Along with construction, they have programs focusing on carpentry, welding, plumbing, insulation, HVAC, electricity, and others. They provide safety-focused, affordable, and accessible training. ABC has local chapters throughout the county, including the Carolinas, that provide apprenticeship programs to train workers. One of the foremost goals of ABC of the Carolinas’ is to promote workforce development. These policies work to help stem the skilled workforce shortage, educate young people about the professional opportunities in trade management, expand opportunities for adults looking for new career paths, and fund education and training programs for facilities. ABC has partnered with local high schools through a program called the Student’s Hands-on Experience Day or “S.H.E.D.” This program hosts an annual shed building competition where teams of students draft a design and framing plan for a shed. The teams then construct the shed and build it. The shed designs are judged and the winning team is awarded with special laptop computers. Following that, the shed construction is judged and students win awards for the competition. After the competition, the sheds are auctioned off and the money is used by ABC of the Carolinas’ Schools to Careers Committee to fund trade school scholarships for the students. Not only are events like these great opportunities for students to earn scholarships, it also provides a learning environment and helps students experience a taste of what it is like to work in the construction field. Combining “hands-on” training with the student’s high school education are factors that supplement this need for trade based learning in a high school environment. Educational programs similar to these have a very important role in influencing students to go to trade school. With more influence geared toward trade school and skilled labor jobs, more and more students will be interested in attending trade school.
Trade school is an outstanding option for high school students to consider. The benefits of trade school show that not only is attending trade school instead of college academically reasonable, it is considerate of a student’s time and wallet. This affordable and beneficial option needs to be addressed more in high schools so that students and their families can be informed of these different opportunities available to them. Based on all of these reasons and benefits of attending trade school, more students should Trade School for Skilled Labor.