Top reasons to embrace an education in the trades

By Earl McLeod
Executive Director
Building Industry Association of SC

If you know a student that is seeking a path that will lead to personal fulfillment, a career and technical education (CTE) track can reap many benefits. February is Careers and Technical Education Month, which shines a spotlight on the many different educational opportunities for high school students, college students and adults. CTE includes several different fields, such as information technology, advanced manufacturing and construction. Here are some of reasons students should not overlook gaining a technical education this year.

CTE Helps Students Stay Focused

A standard academic path isn’t best for every student but CTE can be challenging and motivating for some students. According to the Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE), taking one CTE class for every two academic classes minimizes the risk of students dropping out of high school. Not only does CTE help some students stay on track, ACTE also reports that the average high school graduation rate for students concentrating in CTE programs is 93 percent, compared to an average national freshman graduation rate of 80 percent.

Supportive Professional Network Available

Getting your foot in the door in any industry can be a challenge. Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities for high school and college students who are training for a career in construction to gain knowledge about the industry. For example, the Building Industry Association of Central South Carolina in partnership with Midlands Business Education Alliance (MEBA) have scheduled the next Construction Industry Day of Job Shadowing for Tuesday, February 25, 2020. Students participating in the extended learning opportunity will spend the day in either residential or commercial construction to become familiar with a construction pathway of their interest that includes project management, superintendent, electrical, HVAC, welding, architecture, painting, framing, construction sales, concrete, construction management, general contracting, interior design, real-estate, mechanical engineering and heavy equipment operation.

Modest Educational Costs

The cost of college has risen significantly since the 1990s and the shocking sticker price isn’t limited to private, highly selective schools, according to U.S. News and World Report. A technical education not only costs less up front, the opportunity to gain more in wages is significant. According to ACTE data, students can attend public community and technical colleges for a fraction of the cost of tuition at other institutions: $3,520, on average, in 2016-2017. Nearly a third (27 percent) of individuals with less than an associate degree, including licenses and certificates, earn more than the average bachelor’s degree recipient, ACTE reports.

Positive Job Outlook

In 2020, the youngest boomers turn 56, while the oldest will be celebrating 74. About half of this generation, which filled more trade positions than any other before it or since has already retired, and the rest are within 10 years of leaving a vacancy. That means job prospects for CTE students are promising, especially in residential construction. According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data and analysis by NAHB, the number of residential construction jobs increased by 3,000 in December 2019.

For more information on CTE or local careers in construction, contact Midlands Business Education Alliance (803) 732-5359, or [email protected].