Educators encourage high school students to attend trade schools

Updated: Oct. 17, 2019 at 7:16 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The manufacturing industry has been booming in Alabama for years. With the growing number of manufacturers coming to Alabama, there is a growing need for people to fill those jobs.

Alabama’s automotive manufacturing sector employed 40,000 people in 2018.

Gov. Kay Ivey has made it a goal to have 500,000 more high-skilled workers by 2025. Ivey has said students attending trade schools are part of the solution.

David Chenault grew up working with his hands. He said his dad was a mechanic.

“I like working with my hands,” he said. “I have a bunch of projects at the house.”

Chenault tried to attend a four-year college but then decided it was not for him.

“Really just boredom. Sitting at a class all day,” he said.

Now Chenault takes classes at Trenholm State Community College and majors in machine tool technology, which is making tools from scratch.

“I like what I’m doing,” Chenault said.

Educators encouraged high school students Thursday to attend a trade school. They toured Trenholm State Community College. The college’s dean of workforce development, Danny Perry, said these schools could help stop what he believes is a labor shortage.

“It’s a huge issue. As a workforce development dean, I get calls two to three times a week from local companies begging us to send them students,” Perry said.

One instructor at Trenholm said in order to have more people working in the trades, he said students need to learn at a young age to love STEM classes.

“That piece that ensures that we follow students from the early elementary schools, right on through middle school, right on through high school,” said Dr. Robert Jackson, who is an instructor at Trenholm State Community College.

Economist Dr. Keivan Deravi told me that in order to reach the governor’s goal of new high-skilled workers, companies need to offer higher wages and the quality of life needs to improve in the state.

Deravi also said the state’s economy peaked earlier this year and he believes it is no longer experiencing a labor shortage. He said businesses will begin to slow down over time.

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