According to economists, not every young person is right for college, and the option to build a career in the trades may be just the answer for many millennials.
Take Haley Hughes, for example. An NPR article states that when Hughes graduated from high school, her anticipation of attending college was low. “I wasn’t really excited about it, I guess,” she told NPR.
Instead, Hughes opted to start an apprenticeship with a large New England power utility company. And she hasn’t regretted that decision at all.
An apprenticeship in the trades equips people like Hughes with the real-world skills they need to excel in interesting, high-demand jobs in the trades. Take the fact that such programs cost little to no money compared to a college education into consideration, and the benefits of apprenticeships get even better.
"The student loans would be ridiculous," Hughes said. "The schools I was looking at ... were like $40,000 a year."
In addition to the apprenticeship, the power utility with which Hughes is training partners with a local community college to offer students the opportunity to earn a two-year Associate’s degree. Hughes has some scholarships and the utility pays some of the cost for college, and Hughes expects to graduate with no debt.
About 90% of those who train with the utility get jobs there after the complete training. Those are good odds, especially considering the fact that so many traditional four-year college students graduate with no job prospects in sight.
The vocational void
In the past, many high schools offered vocational training, getting many students comfortable with the hands-on, skilled work characteristic of the trades. These days, however, vocational programs are on the decline, making it rarer for students to consider apprenticeships such as the one Hughes is completing.
What’s more, many baby boomers in the trades are retiring, leaving more and more opportunities open for younger generations to enter these fields. High schools and community colleges need to begin partnering with companies and local training organizations that have registered apprenticeship programs to offer access to vocational training again, according to Anthony Carnevale, the director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.
“We basically obliterated the modernization of the old vocational education programs and they've been set aside,” he told NPR.
The registered apprenticeship advantage
Many apprenticeships prepare individuals to enter the building trades, and they offer a variety of appealing advantages. These include the ability to earn while you learn and receive a living wage and good benefits from the start.
Look around this website to learn more about all of the advantages an apprenticeship can provide.