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Trade School Becoming More Of An Option For Gen Z

Of all the decisions that 18-year-olds can make about their future, one is becoming more popular: going to trade school.

The increasing appeal of skilled trade work is throwing a wrench in the enrollment levels of pricey four-year institutions as more young people opt out of traditional college and opt into vocational programs that offer good pay and stability, per the WSJ.

• The number of students enrolled in vocational-focused community colleges increased 16% from 2022-23, according to data from the National Student Clearinghouse

• The number of students studying construction at two-year undergraduate programs rose ~12% since 2021

So, why the shift? Four-year schools used to seem like the most straightforward path to a high salary, but with their costs going up, they also lead to a lot of debt.

Meanwhile, a shortage in skilled workers has driven up workers' earnings: Median pay for construction workers rose more than 5% last year to $48,089, compared to $39,520.


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