Skip Navigation

A Letter to Prospective Students

Ready to build your future?

Fill out the form below and let’s get started.

You must be at least 13 years of age to request more information. By completing this form, you are providing Arclabs Welding School express written consent to use this information to contact you via the most convenient way possible (phone, email, mail and text messaging). By Visiting Our Site & Using Our Forms You Agree To Our Privacy Policy.

A Letter to Prospective Students

The Trades Are Surging

As an upcoming or recent high school graduate, you’re at a pivotal moment in your life, faced with making decisions that will shape your future. You may be contemplating the traditional path of pursuing a four-year college degree, or you might be questioning whether a vocational training program in the trades could be a more suitable route for you. A recent Wall Street Journal article from April 1, 2024, sheds light on the evolving landscape of the American workforce and the growing appeal of skilled trades among young adults like yourself.

Redefining Success in the Workforce

The skilled trades, which include professions such as welding, construction, HVAC, and machine tooling, are experiencing a resurgence in popularity. This revival is driven by several factors: significant wage increases, advancements in technology, and a reevaluation of the value of a traditional college education, which has seen costs skyrocket without a guaranteed return on investment. The Wall Street Journal article notes, “Rising pay and new technologies in fields from welding to machine tooling are giving trade professions a face-lift, helping them shed the image of being dirty, low-end work” (WSJ, 2024).

The Rise of Vocational Education

Vocational education programs have seen a surge in enrollment, indicating a shift in how young people view education and career readiness. According to the Wall Street Journal, “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” (WSJ, 2024). This trend suggests that more young Americans are recognizing the value of acquiring specialized skills that lead directly to employment opportunities, particularly in fields that are in need of new talent due to the retirement of older tradespeople.

Exploring Alternative Paths

For those of you who may have started a four-year college program and are now questioning that decision, it’s important to remember that it’s never too late to explore alternative paths. The skilled trades offer the opportunity for hands-on work, immediate application of skills, and the potential for high earnings without the burden of college debt. The Wall Street Journal article highlights the story of Tanner Burgess, who chose a welding program over college and now expects to be making a six-figure annual income after five years in the profession (WSJ, 2024).

Embracing New Opportunities

As you consider your options, remember that the modern skilled trades environment is evolving, with advanced technologies and opportunities for entrepreneurship. The trades offer a sense of accomplishment and the chance to tangibly shape the world. Whether you’re drawn to the hands-on nature of these professions or the entrepreneurial potential they hold, the trades can offer a fulfilling and rewarding career path.

As you stand at this crossroads, take the time to explore all your options and consider what aligns best with your interests, skills, and long-term goals. The decision to pursue a career in the skilled trades could open the door to a future filled with opportunities and success.

For more insights, you can read the full Wall Street Journal article here:
Gen Z Embraces Skilled Trades as a Viable Career Path

David Crook
Arclabs Welding School