Date Posted
Mar 14, 2019

Resources for talking with kids about college alternatives

It’s getting easier and easier these days to find a great family-wage job without a college degree. Why? Simply put, there aren’t enough skilled workers to fill all of the available jobs.

Whatcom County youth who are considering entering the workforce without going to college have a number of great paths available to them. Here are a few:

Jobs in the trades. A recent article in the Portland Business Journal highlights the massive opportunities available for youth in the trades. With unemployment at record lows and with so many kids being steered toward college, a number of career-wage jobs are just sitting there, empty. Says the article: “The construction industry faces steep challenges in finding workers at every level, from laborers to managers. Nurses, customer service reps and truck drivers are in short supply; as are welders, plumbers, electricians and other jobs in the trades. The situation is only expected to worsen as thousands of skilled workers are set to retire in the next 10 years.”

Apprenticeships. As “earn and learn” opportunities, apprenticeships give youth the ability to earn an income while also receiving invaluable on-the-job training that will set them up for their future careers. Apprenticeships typically last from one to six years, depending on the job and industry, and can result in careers with significant family-wage income. The U.S. Department of Labor runs an apprenticeship-finding service that lists available opportunities in Bellingham and throughout Whatcom County, including for cooks, diesel technicians, plumbers, electrical workers, dog trainers and more.

Immersive learning. Immersive learning uses virtual reality technology to put youth in realistic work scenarios without impacting actual business procedures. It’s a training mechanism that builds on the digital competencies of today’s youth to prepare them for future work. It’s popular in the aviation and maritime industries, and even companies such as Wal-Mart are using the technology to train workers. Accenture says that immersive learning through extended reality “provides a new level of experiential learning to help business” create the future workforce.

Connect with YES Whatcom. Of course, one great way to link youth to the jobs of their future is to contact YES Whatcom. We work with business owners throughout the county to fill important jobs, connecting them with youth who have the drive and skills to succeed. Reach out to us at 360-746-0418.