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Editorial


Front Page - Friday, February 7, 2020

Top reasons to embrace an education in the trades




Chattanooga-area students seeking a path that will lead to opportunity and personal fulfillment are finding promise in career and technical education tracks. February is Careers and Technical Education Month, which shines a spotlight on the educational opportunities for high school students, college students and adults.

CTE includes various fields, such as information technology, advanced manufacturing and construction. Take a look at some of the reasons students are getting a technical education this year.

CTE keeps students focused

While a standard academic path isn’t for everyone, CTE can be challenging and motivating for many students. The Association for Career & Technical Education reports 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%, compared to an average national freshman graduation rate of 80%.

CTE offers a supportive network

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 National Association of Home Builders has student chapters across the country dedicated to enriching educational experiences for students and offers firsthand exposure to the real world.

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, U.S. News and World Report states. A technical education not only costs less up front, the opportunity to gain more in wages is significant.

ACTE data show 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%) 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 and creating 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, visit the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga at HBAGC.net.