Students looking at benefits of trade jobs over college education

Students looking at benefits of trade jobs over college education

It's a question often asked to many high school student, "Where are you going to college?"

However, college isn't for everyone, and nationwide, skilled workers are in demand more and more each year.

"I just saw the benefits of not having to pay for college necessarily, and I really liked that," said Grant Will, a senior at Penta Career Center.

Grant Will is studying Advanced Manufacturing Technologies.

In a society, where going to college is emphasized, he went against that and instead found interest in trade.

"We are the backbone of America, nothing starts without us, from the molds that make your car parts to the tools to make your clothes. Nothing really starts without us and that always interested me," Grant said.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, people with career and technical educations are more likely to be employed than those with academic credentials.

Not to mention, the demand for skilled trade workers is high.

"There is a major need. I've been to several shops, especially with job shadowing, you could see it, they're hurting for people," Grant said.

The Deloitte Consulting LLP and the Manufacturing Institute reports that by 2025 about 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will need filled, but due to the skills gap, 2 million of those are expected to remain empty.

In Ohio alone, there are more than 2,500 manufacturing job openings annually.

"I think there's a stigma out there that exists from the economic downturn that these jobs aren't stable. Or that manufacturing is still that dirty, dingy manufacturing of the 80's and 90's, and neither one of those are true anymore. The jobs that exist now are high skilled jobs," said Marshall Wolf, Penta Career Services Coordinator.

This shortage is pushing wages higher in the skilled trades.

As reported by the Associated General Contractors of America, 90 percent of Ohio firms increased base pay rates in the last year for trade workers due to difficulty filling positions.

Manufacturing isn't the only trade facing challenges to fill positions.

Of construction companies nationwide, 80 percent are having trouble finding qualified workers, according to AGC of America.

"Everybody is going to college so eventually there's not going to be anybody in the trades and there's going to be more of a demand for that. So me also being a girl in this trade, I definitely have a leg up and more opportunities," said Marci Hogg, a Penta senior.

Marci's interest in construction and electrical work came from seeing family members in the trades and thinking about her own future.

As the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, construction, health care and personal care will account for one-third of all new jobs through 2022.

It's not just the ability to get a well-paying job out of high school, but being debt free.

"I think about it all the time because everybody's like, 'oh I don't know what I'm going to even do yet after high school,' and I'm like, I already have my plan and I won't be in debt," Marci said.

According to Zippia, Ohio ranks as the fourth-highest state in the country for student debt after college.

Knowing this, along with seeing the estimated starting salary in manufacturing positions is about $60,000, is something that factored strongly into Grant's decision.

"It's nice to know that I'm going to be able to make great money right out of high school without having to pay for all the extra college and all the extra work," he said.

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