Saturday, June 22

Shop Classes Putting Students on the Path for Comfortable Middle-Class Living

In the U.S. schooling system, shop classes often have a reputation for being the “slacker classes” — the easy A’s that students take to fill up space, rather than for the purpose of truly learning a skill. That perception, though, might not be based in reality as the market for auto mechanics heats up throughout the U.S.Evan Fischbach is one example of a success story. Two years out of high school, he is already making $40,000 a year — with expected earnings of $60,000 once he gains more industry experience. Fischbach took an automotive class during his junior year of high school, and right away realized he wanted to work on cars.His parents, both college-educated, weren’t sure about his career options. But before he even graduated, a local auto dealer with too few mechanics on hand offered to train and hire him as a service bay apprentice. Today, he is earning $795 per week — by comparison, his 19-year-old peers with a diploma are making $250.For many years, funding for vocational education dropped as more money was funneled into classes aimed at preparing high school students for college. That tide is finally turning, though. This year, the U.S. is adding funds to vocational education for the first time in 10 years. In some ways, the huge push towards college education has left a large number of middle-class jobs oddly vacant, with many garages recruiting mechanics right out of high school in an effort to fill their ranks and meet demand.

Another factor holding back some teenagers from seeking vocational training is parents. While many recognize the value of such training, they still take the approach of, “not my kid,” instead continuing with the expectation of a four-year degree. Many parents, themselves, were laid off from similar jobs during the last several years, and might not realize or believe that the industry is making a comeback when they’ve had such a personal — and negative — experience with it.

While parents and students alike may continue to hesitate regarding the benefits of technical education, employees like Fischbach are taking advantage of the 23 million “middle-education” jobs in the U.S. that pay upwards of $35,000, and do not require a four-year degree.

“Our mechanics love being continuously rewarded by repairing their client’s complications,” says Robbie Thomas, Service Director of Hudiburg Nissan. “Transportation is a very vital requirement in life and being the go-to person for trustworthiness is gratifying.”

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