High school students get hands on experience learning about skilled trades

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois - Local high school students got hands-on experience learning about skilled trades at the Building Trades Career Expo today.

Junior Achievement hosted 15 different schools on Thursday, October 25, 2018 to introduce high school students to careers in construction and inspire the next generation of craftsmen and women.

Over 300 students learned about jobs like welding, carpentry and plumping.

Local companies say there is an increasing demand to fill those jobs in their trades.

Dave Arnold from Plasterers and Cement Masons Local 18 said the average age for a construction worker, today, is 45-years-old. He hopes to see more young men, women and minorities in the trade.

"When I first started the trade, most folks went into trades or the shop," Arnold said. "It was a smaller percentage that went into the college experience - and now it's flip-flopped. So everyone thinks to make a decent living you have to go to college - which is somewhat of a myth. We've been a best kept secret for way too long."

Industry professionals say they want to show young kids that college is not the only option after graduation.

Bryce Lawson, a Pleasant Valley High School student, said today's expo has him seriously considering working in the concrete or plumbing field once he graduates.

"In school we get pushed a lot towards college and, I mean, a lot of [tradesmen] make pretty decent money," Lawson said. "As much as a guy in a desk would make. The person in a desk would probably make about the same as us with hands-on work."

Junior Achievement serves 24 counties in eastern Iowa and western Illinois.