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  • Writer's pictureAMWINC

The College Push: Part Two

In our last post, we discussed the inconsistencies between the push for college and the push for trade or vocational school. An entire generation of tradespeople are beginning to retire with no one to fill the open positions, so now what?

First and foremost, it is the responsibility of parents and educators to understand what trade school entails, what job opportunities stem from a two-year degree or apprentice programs and to educate their students and children. Educators and parents alike need to stop and think - why is college the only path to success?

It isn’t impossible to find parents or teachers who encourage vocational school over college, but it is rare. In an interview with educator, coach and parent, Beth Raspopovich, we asked her to share the thought process for encouraging her daughter, Kya, to pursue a career in the trades. “I am an educator, education is very important – but not all education happens in a school classroom.” Raspopovich stated, “I don’t see the issue as necessarily being trade school vs. college - both are equally viable options as each is important and both have extensive positives.”  When asked about ways to determine how one would begin making the choice between trade school and college Raspopovich replied, “It is important to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses to determine which is a better option for you.”

We asked how she and Kya came to the conclusion that trade school was a more beneficial path Raspopovich enthusiastically said,  “Too many in our society look down on those that work in the trades as ‘less than’ or ‘not smart enough to go to college’ -  I could not disagree more.” She went on to state, “My daughter is currently a senior in high school and is more than capable of attending college.  Throughout her life, I have always discussed college and its benefits and espoused the importance of education along with always doing her best. However, I also taught her about the many trades and benefits that being a tradesperson has equally as much.  As she was getting older, I could see she was a kinesthetic learner that enjoyed working with her hands and creating, and I felt a trade may be the best option for her. “

To help her daughter determine if a trade was the right path for her,  they visited the Area Career Center in Hammond, Indiana in order to explore their programs where she immediately was drawn to the Construction class.  Raspopovich stated, “Kya has attended the ACC for two years and was hooked as soon as she stepped foot in that classroom.  I am proud to say she will one day work in a trade.”

Although it’s a start, it isn’t solely the responsibility of educators and parents like Raspopvich to work on filling this gap. Additionally, it’s important for companies and unions in need of people to fill these positions to develop apprenticeship, mentor and career focus programs and to market them appropriately. We are in the digital age of if you can’t see it, does it even exist? I know, I know - I sound like a millennial - BUT if young adults can’t SEE how things are done, how will they know their options? Lawyers, banks, billion-dollar corporations offer internships and market them… as an industry - why shouldn’t we?

Industries like construction, manufacturing, plumbing, welding, masonry and of course machining will not be replaced by artificial intelligence in our lifetime. Trade school can provide comprehensive education as well as a stable career path. It means minimal educational related debt, opportunity for growth within both small and large companies, and the largest benefit? There will always be a need for tradespeople. 

Until next time, we’ve enjoyed talking shop with you.

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