The lure of the trades: No school debt

The lure of the trades: No school debt

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Oregon’s Office of Economic Analysis issued a new report pointing out teachers and construction workers make about the same amount of money but construction workers do not typically need as much college as teachers.

“All of these jobs pay approximately the same wage because they are performed by skilled workers, yet require vastly different levels of formals education,” writes Josh Lehner from the Office of Economic Analysis.

It’s no surprise to construction company owner Todd Hess.

“That is a message that we’ve been trying to get out for years,” he said.

Hess said there are openings at his construction company and others around Oregon, even across the country. Hess said people can often learn on the job, instead of racking up student loans for a degree they may or may not use.

“If somebody is interested in construction they can join an apprenticeship program, they can take classes at a community college and learn construction, but they can have a job and be working and employed and be paid while they’re learning,” he said.

Amy James Neel, a carpenter and trainer for a group called Oregon Tradeswomen, agrees.

“You can make as much as a teacher without the debt or considerably more than a teacher without the debt,” she said.

Oregon tradeswomen is a pre-apprenticeship program that over seven weeks, exposes women and people of color to the trades at no charge. Portland Youth Build and Constructing Hope are two other pre-apprenticeship programs in the Portland area.

James Neel says it’s a brilliant choice for those interested in the trades.

“If you go to college, great! Great pathway. You get to learn a lot of neat stuff. At the end of it, you have $50,000 or $100,000 debt--and you are at the bottom of your game,” she said.

“Whereas in the trades, that same amount of time, no debt. You are not incurring debt, but in five years, you are at the top of your game,” James Neel said.

© 2018 KGW-TV


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