Skilled trades good for youth

Not everyone can or should pursue a four-year college education.

There are many avenues to securing stable and lucrative employment. The nine recent high school graduates in AIS Construction’s Summer Technician Entrance Program (STEP) are shining examples of taking an alternate post-secondary education path.

The nine-week program offers housing and $12 an hour for those who think they might be cut out for the heavy equipment industry, and a job offer awaits those who prove themselves – with the potential to earn $44,000 to $60,000 for those who stick with it.

The shortage of skilled trade workers and alternatives to college are being discussed more frequently in the legislature and at all levels of government. To see how it is already being addressed in Greater Lansing demonstrates forward-thinking and should be a point of pride.

The Lansing Pathway Promise – a three-track approach that allows students to select schools based on a possible career pathway from Pre-K through graduation – will recognize the value of skilled trades as a career path early in a child’s education.

Along with general education, students in Lansing will soon be able to choose manufacturing and technology training with industry partners over the traditional classroom college prep coursework.

In 2014, President Obama said that despite a bad reputation likely caused by a generation of outsourcing, skilled trades workers have just as much earning potential for young people and are just as necessary to society as jobs you obtain through a four year degree program. A Washington Post article noted that many people with four year degrees were switching to skilled trades and making more money.

Examples like STEP, the Lansing Pathway promise and industry-specific talent development programs show that not only are there many ways to choose a career path, but there are many ways to make a good living.

Having options is the most important advantage to be offered to youth; Greater Lansing businesses and schools taking part in these programs put students here ahead of the curve.

These programs should be expanded and others should be developed, in skilled-trades and other industries, to ensure every young person has the options necessary to realize their potential.

– Lansing State Journal