Ending the stigma behind trade schools and jobs

LOVES PARK, Ill (WIFR) -- "Half of students coming out of high school aren't even aware of trade programs at all," says President of Metal Supermarkets Nick Voigt. A new study by Metal Supermarkets shows just that.

Ending the trade school stigma

Two out of every three participants in the 500 person study​ said they didn't know enough about trade schools to have an interest. Almost 70 percent say guidance counselors didn't discuss the option.

"They don't realize the benefits of only going to a two year program as opposed to a four year, the significant costs that is a lot less than college," says Voigt. The average cost of trade school is $33,000 opposed to the average cost of getting a four-year degree, which is $127,000.

"You can get out of a very short program and make a lot of money right out of high school instead of going to a four-year program," says Voigt.

Half of the study's participants say they would rather pursue a career as a barista in a coffee shop than be a welder. Top-paid welders can make more than $100,000 annually.

"People think of welders as dirty hillbillies," says Darrell Anderson of Iron Paw Fabrication in Loves Park. "Yeah we do have dirty jobs most of the time, but there are the few that get into high-end surgical steels."

Trade encompasses more than just welding. Those in the industry know their worth. "HVAC, electricians, plumbers, we need those people," says Voigt. "We need people to build bridges, infrastructure programs building buildings."

Anderson says there is an age gap in skilled-trade workers. They hope ending the stigma will close the gap.

"Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty," he encourages anyone interested in trade school. "Get in there and get the job done, do it right."