Pandemic Offers Real World Experience for Trade Students

With in-person classes cancelled due to the Coronavirus, students in the trades are being launched in to the workforce

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Canceling in-person classes has been a major adjustment for schools across the country, but students at trade schools may be benefitting from the out-of-classroom shift. Many skills being taught in trade schools are among the most needed during the Coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re finding a lot of ways to keep these kids in the workforce, and we’re letting that count as their credit for their lab component,” Southern Hills Career and Technical Center (CTC) Superintendent Kevin Kratzer said.

Southern Hills CTC offers courses in agricultural/industrial mechanics, graphic design, automotive technology, construction technologies, clinical healthcare, cosmetology, criminal justice, culinary arts, early childhood education, information technologies, sports medicine and welding. Their students have been placed with companies still conducting essential business to further their education through real-world work experience.

“When [our partner companies are] in a crunch and they need people bad, they’re calling us, and that’s fantastic because that’s giving our kids those real-life experiences and income that many of them need and their families need,” Kratzer said.

After finishing the majority of the school year, Kratzer feels students are prepared to join the workforce.

“We’ve at least had six-to-seven months to give them some solid background, solid safety training,” Kratzer said. “Now, we feel comfortable. It’s not ideal, but we feel comfortable letting them go out and they’re doing us proud.”

Teaching Trades Continues

For students not being called in to the work force, the education must continue. And in this time of distance teaching and learning, trade shops at vocational schools face, perhaps, the greatest challenge.

Virtual learning has taken off overnight amid the pandemic and teachers of the trades are finding creative ways to help their students continue learning their skill. Many associations are also helping push education forward by offering free webinars and training videos to help workers hone their skills while out of work. 

With uncertainty still looming for the fall semester, an opportunity presents itself for governments to invest in education, helping trade schools, colleges and universities increase their output of graduates. It will pay off in long-term productivity – bettering individual lives and strengthening the future of our economy.