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Skilled Trades Make a Comeback (Editorial)

1 min read

THIS IS AN OPINION

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Our theory is that civilization rests on four pillars: the rule of law, sufficient food, safe and abundant water and, finally, good hygiene, i.e., good plumbing. Because as anyone who has had a plumbing emergency can tell you, when you need a plumber, you need a plumber. And you will pay that person whatever it takes.

So it was good to read in The Wall Street Journal last week that more young workers are entering the skilled trades, like welding, construction, electrical work, machine tooling, HVAC and vehicle repair, and, yes, plumbing.

There are several reasons, among them high college costs and rising pay, particularly as older workers age out of the workforce.

“Enrollment in vocational training programs is surging as overall enrollment in community colleges and four-year institutions has fallen,” the Journal said. “The number of students enrolled in vocational-focused community colleges rose 16% last year to its highest level since the National Student Clearinghouse began tracking such data in 2018.”

A number of Arkansas educational institutions are paying attention. For example, the Bentonville School District has created a career and technical education director position, and the career and technical education program in Springdale now employs more than 120 teachers serving 2,500 students, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported last month.

The demand for training that leads to essential, good-paying jobs — from both students and businesses — is there. Arkansas’ schools need to rise to meet that demand.

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