Trade school offers effective alternative to college

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Photo by Elizabeth McGraw

Story by Jack Hamby, Staff Writer

Decisions, decisions. When it comes to a career, East Meck students are faced with a dizzying number of options and pressure to choose by the time they are seniors. 

Fortunately, there is a great resource available just across the main courtyard: the Career Center.

Elizabeth McGraw is a career development coordinator working in the career center. With her, students enrolled in any program offered at East can ask questions and seek guidance if they are unsure about a path to take after high school.

“If students do not know what they want to do, they can come and see me and I can help them,” McGraw said.

In recent years, it was an expectation that the average high school graduate attend a four-year college, receive a degree and stick to one or two white-collar employers for the remainder of their lives. However, with the increasing expenses tied to four-year colleges and the demand for industrial labor, blue collar jobs are coming to light.

When someone refers to a job as ‘blue collar,’ they are often referring to the jobs which require manual labor. Jobs like plumbing, engineering and construction fall under this category. 

“[Blue collar jobs} are, the kinds of industries that are going to be paying more money,” McGraw said. “A lot of those guys make six figures and they did not even go to school, or they went to school for a year.”

With the advent of digital technology in recent decades and increasing industry worldwide, the blue collar worker is important now more than ever. Because of the often quicker and cheaper education required to fill out one of these roles, industry is becoming a popular choice among students.

“Blue collar jobs are probably going to be making more money than white collar jobs for the most part because there is more need for blue collar jobs,” McGraw said.

Another area where there is growth in jobs in the area of computers. Because computers are a daily part of more and more people’s lives, there is a growing reliance on it by individuals and companies alike. Since the internet is growing every day, there is a growing need to protect it. Cybersecurity is among the many digital jobs which companies are looking for.

“Any kind of cyberspace security is very needed,” McGraw said, “Cybersecurity is a big one that kids aren’t necessarily going into, but they really need it now.”

Another broad line of work with, “a lot of opportunities below it and surrounding it,” is engineering.

“Engineering is popular, you can do almost anything. I don’t think a lot of kids think about engineering,” McGraw said.

Having remained popular over the years as it is always evolving, anyone can find an engineering job that fits their interest.

In addition, McGraw said,, the military is often overlooked or not investigated too deeply by students. However, the military is always broadening its educational opportunities. Assistance is also offered by the military by paying for up to 100 percent of tuition costs.

“The military is a good option as well. If [students] decide they want to go to school later, they can. The military will pay for it ” she said. 

Whatever career works best for a student, the career center has programs they are willing to offer to students. The career center stresses the importance of finding whatever interests the individual most.

“There’s nothing wrong with going to a four-year school, but you need to know where your passion is and what your skills are,” McGraw said.