Gen Z trades college for trade school

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The Future. Young people, especially Gen Zers, are looking to skilled trade work as an appealing alternative to joining the professional class. With the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act set to ramp up positions in new industries like wind and solar, expect there to be a surge in employment that rivals the tech boom of the past 15 years.

“Tool belt generation”
…that’s what many are calling Gen Z as they start to gravitate more towards blue-collar jobs like being an HVAC installer, plumber, or electrician.

Here’s why:

  • College is expensive and uncertain. The cost of college has more than doubled in the past 20 years, and many majors no longer easily translate to jobs after graduation… leading many young people to move back home.
  • AI is transforming white-collar work. ChatGPT is taking over entry-level jobs that were previously reserved for college grads, making launching a career even harder (don’t even get us started on internships).
  • Blue-collar work has a clear, well-paying path. Trade schools are relatively cheap to attend, there are plenty of open positions after certification (with many paying six figures), and they allow workers to become entrepreneurs.

The migration to blue-collar work is already building. Between 2022 and 2023, enrollment at trade schools jumped 16%, according to a study by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Additionally, Jobber found that 75% of Gen Zers would be open to going to trade school if they had paid, on-the-job training — a staple of skilled trade.

The interest couldn’t come at a better time — a lot of skilled workers are aging out of their professions. Opportunities are now everywhere.

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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