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Trades provide a good pathway into the future

This also appeared as an editorial in the Utica Observer Dispatch. It can be found here.

With the framework of the creation of the Career and Technical Education diploma now in place, New York state needs to fast track the process so that students will be able to make use of it.

Former New York City Mayor and billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg made some comments earlier this year that raised some eyebrows. He suggested that going to trade school to be a plumber was likely a better economic choice than going to college to receive an undergraduate degree. In fact, he actually went a step further and said that for the average person, becoming a plumber is probably a better deal than going to Harvard.

The numbers back him up and it’s time our education system reflects this.

A continuing concern for businesses in construction is the lack of a trained workforce, particularly with the economy making gains and a good amount of new building taking place.

Recognizing the disparity, which is only certain to grow in the coming years, Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, D-Utica; Sen. David Valesky, D-Oneida, and Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-Utica, introduced legislation to create a Career and Technical Education diploma. Our members, representing over 400 contractors and thousands of employees throughout the state, certainly appreciate their efforts.

As worded in the legislation, this Career and Technical Education (CTE) diploma, “Shall be based on a curriculum designed to provide students with technical skills and shall demonstrate that the student is ready for a career as determined by regulations of the commissioner.”

There is little question that college is not for everyone. And that’s OK. Electricians, plumbers, welders, masons, carpenters and the like are the backbone of our economy and have literally built our country. For high school students and job seekers, there is tremendous upside in these fields. This includes a growing demand for jobs due to increased building, an aging workforce, and the fact that these jobs can never be outsourced to other countries.

We need to make sure that these students have the tools to enter the workforce in these skilled trades, and this CTE Diploma can help do just that.

With the framework of the creation of the CTE diploma now in place, New York state needs to fast track the process so that students will be able to make use of it. I would also hope that there is a mechanism built in to further educate those on the front lines with our children, such as guidance counselors, on the tremendous benefits of a career in the trades.

Excellent wages and benefits, working with your hands instead of sitting in an office all day, and the opportunity to someday own your own business. These are just some of the benefits of working in the trades. New York needs to take heed and get going on implementing the CTE diploma to train our workers of tomorrow.