ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- While many students are searching for the perfect college, others may be searching for the perfect trade so they can live the American dream one nail at a time.
"Schools push children to go to college, there really isn't a lot of talk of going into a trades union," Senior at Rockford Lutheran school Eric Loome said.
Hundreds of students attended the eleventh annual Northwestern Illinois Trades Career Expo to learn alternative ways they can pave their road to success.
"It thrills me to know that I have been involved with so many things here in the United States and the World," Bricklayer Jack Derosso said.
"I wish my high school would have brought me to this event. This would have been wonderful and very helpful for me as a young man," Sheet metal apprentice Keegan Knoup said.
Students, union representatives, and event coordinators all agreed that this expo does more than just land people jobs, it kick starts careers.
"You can earn a great living, you can raise a family, you can take a vacation. You're going to be able to experience things that we call the American dream," Business Representative for the Painters District Council number 30 John Penney said.
Students who join one of the 16 trade unions or five schools to train apprentices in Rockford can learn the tools of the trade for free, and union reps say they need the help.
"These students will be able to come in get that experience, get that education for zero dollars, and in this day and age with college debt continuing to climb, this is a great opportunity," Penney said.
For more information, NWIBT can be reached at (815) 965-2282 and firstname.lastname@example.org.