The COVID-19 pandemic interfered with the educational paths of millions of adult learners across the country. While rates of enrollment are down for traditional forms of education, there’s been continued interest in trade school programs among those looking to return to school. With the HVAC/R industry experiencing a skilled labor shortage, this comes as good news for employers.
Here, we’ll dive a little deeper to understand the factors motivating people to enroll in trade school programs post-pandemic.
4 Top Reasons People Are Turning to the Trades
It’s commonly thought that a four-year college degree is one of the safest paths towards a financially rewarding and stable future. This popular idea can lead some people to wonder, “why would someone attend a trade school?”
Luckily, we don’t have to guess what those entering the trades are thinking. A StrataTech survey offers insights into people’s motivations for pursuing trade school training:
1. Essential Worker Status
At the height of the pandemic, unemployment reached a record level of just under 15%.1 However, HVAC technicians and other workers in positions considered “essential” were permitted to keep reporting to job sites.
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Such job security has attracted workers to the trades. Nearly one-third of those enrolled or considering enrolling in the trades did so to earn this title, found the StrataTech survey.2 With so much uncertainty still surrounding the virus, careers deemed essential can seem more stable to some workers.
2. Financial Incentive
Another commonly cited reason for enrolling in the trades, according to the StrataTech survey, was the financial incentive. In fact, 56% of people already in a trades program or seriously considering enrolling in one wanted a more reliable source of income.2 On top of that, 62% of individuals who were forced to find extra income during the pandemic reported that the trades were a major consideration.2
Those unfamiliar with the opportunities offered by this line of work might wonder why trade schools are good financial decisions. First and foremost, college tuitions can be costlier than trade school programs. Secondly, the average wages earned by skilled tradespeople can be competitive with those earned by college degree holders.
3. Positive Perspective
It’s true that parents and high school counselors often tout a college education as the ideal route towards a strong career. However, the data seem to suggest that many people, despite this popular opinion, view the trades favorably. The StrataTech survey reports that 80% of high schoolers see the trades in a positive light.2
Furthermore, many respondents had already considered working in the skilled trades: 41% as electricians, 37% in a green job and 33% as mechanics.2 These numbers suggest the generally positive views people have of the trades may be a motivator for considering enrolling in or enrolling in trade school programs.
4. Job Security
One of the main reasons individuals are enrolling or thinking about enrolling in trade school programs is the rate of job placement after graduation.2 You might be wondering why trade school graduates can have more job security than their college-graduate counterparts. That’s a great question, and there are a few key reasons.
Unlike bachelor’s degree programs that place more stress on theoretical or general concepts, vocational courses like a refrigeration training program can prepare students to become an HVAC technician. Another important difference is the length of trade programs; they usually last from a few months to two years, oftentimes preparing people for the workforce quicker than colleges.
Why Consider Trade School?
The disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many adults changing their academic plans. The rate of college enrollment experienced a drop during the pandemic, yet interest in trade school programs has remained strong. If you’re wondering why it could be worth it to choose trade school over a college education, here’s a quick rundown of the potential advantages:
- Often quicker preparation for the workforce
- Typically lower student debt when compared to earning a bachelor’s degree
- Healthy demand for skilled workers
- Hands-on training for students who learn better by doing
Are you interested in learning more about the advantages of going to a trade school? Reach out to a rep with The Refrigeration School for more info. Call 866-820-0823 today.
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