Infrastructure and resources are lacking to support and grow the programs

Cookeville – According to two recent reports commissioned by Harbor Freights Tools for Schools (HFTFS), over 80% of voters support increased government funding for skilled trades classes in high school, but the infrastructure and resources are lacking to support and grow the programs.

“Demand is immense and growing for the electricians, carpenters, plumbers, and all who build, maintain and repair the infrastructure that supports the entire U.S. economy,” according to the report. “For the past decade, the trades have ranked among the top five hardest worker roles to fill. But due to an aging workforce, misconceptions about trades careers, and limited awareness of opportunities in the trades, there simply aren’t enough people who have mastered the skills and developed the talent required to perform these essential roles.”

This gap between skilled labor jobs and skilled labor is expected to only widen for years to come, according to the report. “Trades” often continue to face a stigma as a “dead-end” route for “low-performing students.” This bias shows the need for a better understanding of the importance and understanding of the trade field education. 

Putnam County School System (PCSS) does currently require trade education as a part of its curriculum.

According to Jackie Vester, CTE Supervisor at Putnam County Schools, PCSS requires 22 credits total with 3 “focus area credits” to graduate. Vester says the focus areas are “most often” CTE Programs of Study.

“Students receive technical training in Career and Technical Education (CTE) Courses in Putnam County,” said Vester. “We hope to produce well-rounded students who are prepared to enter the workforce directly after graduation or attend a technical school, community college or university.” 

Vester says it is important to address the “Critical shortage” of skilled trades workers at the local level.

“It is essential that we are working to match local industry needs and student interest when providing CTE options in our school system,” said Vester.

It all starts with local leaders.

“We work with local industry leaders to gain insight into workforce needs through one-on-one meetings, Highlands Economic Partnership Roundtables or Regional Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment meetings to name a few.” 

Putnam County Schools offer CTE courses in all 16 nationally recognized career clusters. 

“This ranges from Advanced Manufacturing to Health Sciences to Business Management as well as Architecture and Construction,” according to Vester.

The trades are the backbone of the economy, and education on the importance of trades is the first step toward erasing stigma and enlightening students on the importance and opportunities available in a complex system.

Check back for part two of our continued coverage of trades education in school.

Photo courtesy of Harbor Freight Schools for Tools.

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