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  • Writer's pictureTerry Bierwirth

Move Skilled Trades to Top of the List

Written by guest blogger Ruth Vettrus

I recently read an article that Teen Vogue published about options after high school graduation, other than college. I was researching out of interest, as I’ve been teaching special education for 15 years and most recently at the high school level in a small community. At every meeting, we would speak about goals and objectives as well as an ongoing transition plan for after high school. Just recently I’ve been wanting to know more about the options that are being promoted for students who aren’t on the fast track to college. The article talked about various options such as becoming an intern, doing a fellowship, doing projects abroad, joining the military, saving money, helping with a charity and other ideas. The thing that caught my eye however was the last item on the list. Item #9 was “learn a trade.” This stood out to me because my sister recently decided to pursue a trade herself after 15 years in the workforce. This last but not least option in the Teen Vogue article is why I’m writing about this topic. I believe the skilled trades need to be encouraged as well as promoted in high school and beyond. There are so many skilled students who don’t know what to do after college, but aren’t able to make the jump into the right trade or vocational program. Some of these students may be “non traditional learners,” but are also some of the smartest individuals. They might truly have what it takes to be in a trade, but might not know it yet. I believe with some encouragement on the part of the high school career counselors, as well as the trades themselves, by being proactive to seek out students with the skill sets they are looking for, we could see an increase in numbers of students being able to go right into a program. I’m hopeful that with a little change in the way communities see trades and vocational schools, students will take this option more seriously. That people will encourage all students to look at all the options. With a little help I think the trades could actually make it from being last on the list to first.

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