Hempfield Area School District wants students to consider trade schools
Hempfield Area School Board members are trying to find a balance between college-bound students and those who enter the trades.
By increasing access to internships, job shadowing and apprenticeships, officials are hoping to open doors for students in areas they wouldn’t previously have considered.
“There are, maybe, some students who aren’t thinking on the technical trade side of it when they’re starting high school, but now they’re faced with this junior, senior year and looking at what college is truly going to cost them,” school board President Sonya Brajdic said. “Reaching out to all of our trade industries and saying, ‘come talk to these kids,’ because, right now, our trades are dying.”
Across the state, Gov. Tom Wolf is encouraging students to explore the trades as welders, machinists, electricians and carpenters. By 2025, Wolf hopes to double the number of apprentices in the state.
Statistics on the PASmart.gov website show nine out of 10 apprentices are employed after completing an apprenticeship, with an annual starting salary of $60,000.
“We’re hoping that, over the next couple of years, we can open some eyes and realize that the workforce is changing, and we can start teaching what’s appropriate and getting students focused the right way,” Assistant Superintendent Mark Gross said.
While the focus is on encouraging students to consider the trades as a career option, school board members also are hoping to offer job shadowing to students to help them decide if a career is for them. The goal, said Brajdic, is to help students understand the field they want to enter and to prevent them from switching majors once they get to college.
Officials now are working to grow the number of connections they have with local businesses to give students the opportunity to decide if they are college-bound or going into the trades.
“There’s a disconnect and we know that,” Gross said. “And it’s not just a Hempfield phenomenon, it’s national. There needs to be that business-educational partnership.”
Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, [email protected] or via Twitter .