By: Mary Kelly

As the school year is coming to a close, high school seniors across the nation are in the process of determining how and where to continue their education post-high school. With many students ending the school year at home due to COVID-19 school closures, they are looking for a fresh start in their next educational chapter.

From traditional four-year universities to community colleges and certificate programs, there is an overwhelming amount of educational opportunities available for prospective students. With so many options to be considered, it can be a daunting process to select the most appropriate educational institution, especially for students who don’t want to take the traditional higher education path. For students whose circumstances don’t align with obtaining a traditional four-year degree, what options do they have to ensure they will receive a quality post-high school education? An excellent alternative is skilled trades education.

Skilled trades professionals work in a lucrative and booming industry. The COVID-19 pandemic proved how essential skilled trades professionals are and underlined the coveted job security within the industry. As baby boomers continue to retire from the industry, there is a growing need for young professionals to enroll in trade schools and fill the vacant positions. However, many people are unaware of the growing number of skilled trades professionals retiring annually and the negative effects it has on our economy. As skilled trade professionals retire, it leaves a growing and alarming employment gap. If the skilled trades employment gap continues on its current trajectory, there could be an estimated 2.4 million skilled trade positions unfilled by 2028. This could potentially have an economic impact of more than $2.5 trillion according to a 2018 study by Deloitte.

StrataTech Education Group, a student-first company that offers schools with technical career education programs, is committed to elevating awareness around the skilled trades industry and educational and career opportunities available. As CEO of StrataTech, my staff and I work year-round to debunk misconceptions, highlight industry demand for skilled trade professionals, and share information about the educational programs that can lead to a lifetime of rewarding and valuable careers. We are working to alleviate the skilled trades shortage by providing the next generation with the fundamental tools to have longevity and prosperity in the workplace.

What we have learned is education is not one size fits all and it is a disservice to students everywhere to not showcase all the educational options available post-high school. When it comes to high school students making post-graduation decisions, the most common reason high school students do not consider attending a trade school is not knowing about the options available. According to our recent survey, only 32% of high school students reported that their schools promoted trade school education as a potential path following high school graduation. Despite the limited information being provided to students about trade education opportunities, it is reassuring to learn that 93% of the surveyed parents said they would support their child’s choice to pursue an education and career in the skilled trades field.

In addition to the lack of information available to families and students regarding technical education and the growing skilled trades shortage, they are unfamiliar with the plethora of career opportunities available. On average, technical programs require only a few months of classroom and lab time training, and students are typically placed in the field almost immediately upon graduation with an average starting salary of approximately $40,000. Skilled trades education can be an appealing option for those who want to finish school in a timely manner, with limited debt and begin their career earning a salary more than the average college graduate.

Furthermore, Georgetown University Center on Education and Workforce recognized the viability and quality of a skilled trades education. The institute recently released a report highlighting several trade schools as the top in the nation for highest return on investment education. Out of 4,500 national colleges and universities, trade schools, including StrataTech Education Group schools, ranked in the top 3 percent and top 20 percent for the best short-term and long-term return on investment educations. These findings confirm the financial success trade school students are met with upon graduation.

Beyond training the nation’s top skilled trades professionals, we’re working alongside other industry leaders to break stigmas, enlighten individuals on the benefits of skilled trade education and careers, and give students hope for a fulfilling career. We are working diligently so prospective students can develop a customized approach that is beneficial to their life and learning style and gets to the root of the students’ passions to help them formulate an educational path that in turn will result in a meaningful and valuable career.

For more information about StrataTech Education Group, its schools and the current state of the skilled trades industry, visit tws.edu or refrigerationschool.com.

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Mary Kelly is the President and CEO of StrataTech Education Group. She has over twenty years of experience in the postsecondary industry, in both the for-profit and non-profit education sectors. 

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