There is no single path to success post high school. That’s why more and more youth are exploring a variety of opportunities — including trade jobs — which offer flexibility, good wages and transferable skills.
Trade jobs have made headlines recently as they grow in popularity among young people considering a career path. With the cost of student loans on the rise, trade jobs offer flexibility, good wages and transferable skills, appealing to youth who desire meaningful work.
In many cases, a career in the trades offers ongoing learning opportunities, advancement and personal development through real-world experience. With over 50% of U.S. adults 55 and older “out of the labor force due to retirement,” according to Pew Research Center, this opens up opportunities for young people to carve their paths to fulfilling careers in the trades and beyond.
From an early age through high school, Boys & Girls Clubs, with the support and guidance from corporate partners like Toyota, provides opportunities to explore careers and prepare youth with employability skills for future success, whether in the trades or elsewhere. From helping young people identify their career path via job shadowing to on-site visits, certifications, presentations by professionals and more, partnerships provide valuable opportunities to Club kids who may otherwise not have exposure to certain professions.
Essentially, a trade job is a role that requires advanced training outside of a four-year college or university path. Common routes include vocational schools, apprenticeships or on-the-job training. Skilled trades are particularly popular among hands-on learners and those who enjoy problem-solving and creating solutions.
Some common skilled trade jobs include:
“Four-year college degrees have been traditionally positioned as the best place to start,” stated Greg Wise, managing director of the Life & Workforce Readiness Program at Boys & Girls Clubs of America. “However, continuing education is not limited to this traditional outlook, and at Boys & Girls Clubs, we emphasize continuing education overall, which can be college, but can also be fulfilled by trade schools and two-year institutions. There is no single path to success.” National partner, Toyota, supports kids’ exploration of trade skills by providing opportunities through its T-TEN (Technician Training Education Network) automotive technician training program — offering Club youth perspective on the automotive industry through hands-on experience.
Trade schools and two-year institutions teach valuable skills and help students build careers based on their interests and passions. Additionally, trade roles function on a “learn and earn” model, offering continual upskilling and on-the-job training while also getting paid.
According to a PeopleReady Skilled Trades analysis, the demand for tradespeople is growing, offering young people job security and a reliable future. Identifying and exploring a career path early empowers students to pursue post-secondary success on their terms. With half of skilled trade workers earning $50,000 at the onset of their careers, these roles are not only fulfilling but also financially rewarding.
With automation on the rise in trade industries, some are concerned about the longevity of trade roles as a result. Worker shortages persist amid the fears of job losses caused by automation and robotics due to a shift in — not an elimination of — roles.
While day-to-day responsibilities may be redirected to automated processes, the mechanics responsible for these crucial tasks will require maintenance and service. Service trade roles will be integral to the reliability of entire industries.
Another key impact on the future of trade roles is the evolution of global regulations and priorities. As climate impact takes center stage, trade roles will be vital in making positive shifts in key areas such as the energy and automotive sectors. Skilled tradespeople will prove invaluable to the climate movement.
The fastest-growing trade jobs nationwide — in healthcare, electrical and service positions — provide ample opportunity for youth to explore and grow into key fields that interest them.
Healthcare Trade Roles
Recent years have turned attention and investment back to the healthcare industry, and have served as a reminder of the crucial role that healthcare professionals play in society. While doctors and surgeons are typically featured prominently, trade professionals in the medical field proved critical in navigating the changing needs of patients and hospitals.
As the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 13% growth in healthcare employment within the next decade, youth with a passion for supporting the wellness of patients have a wealth of opportunities. Workers are needed for vital roles such as home health aides, medical records technicians, licensed practical nurses and medical equipment support. Trade roles also include radiation therapists, dental hygienists and occupational therapy aides.
Service-industry trade roles offer opportunities for those who enjoy interacting with customers daily. These positions are great for youth who are energized by direct contact with others.
Service trade industries include cosmetology, hospitality, floral design and culinary. Each of these roles directly impacts the end customer, allowing workers to work directly with the customer or use their creativity to design something for them.
The electrical and energy sectors are in an exciting moment of innovation, and trade roles are evolving as the industry does. Youth inspired by or interested in energy roles will find a breadth of opportunity, particularly as climate tech continues to be a large focus in both the public and private sectors.
Renewable energy roles grew across all energy sectors in the US in 2021. With the US commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050, green energy roles will continue to be in high demand. Fast-growing opportunities in energy include wind turbine technicians, solar panel installers and electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers and service technicians.
Joseph Myers, technician development manager at Toyota Motor North America, shared that as electrified vehicle adoption continues to grow, the automotive industry will rely heavily on trained, skilled technicians for maintenance and repair, which creates ample opportunity for youth seeking lucrative trade role careers. Toyota has been training technicians on hybrid technology since the early 2000s, and, according to Joseph, they will only continue to invest in the future of vehicle technologies.
This shift means Club kids are uniquely positioned for a bright future in learning about not only EVs and hydrogen-powered vehicles but a myriad of green technologies. As legislation around climate changes, fossil fuels and ecological impact will continue to be hot topic initiatives and corresponding trade roles will only continue to expand.
“A big part of what’s helped me in my career is that I’ve always had an interest in where things are going. I was the first hybrid technician to be certified when hybrids started in the late 90s. It’s given me a competitive edge, and I see trends that are indicators of the future of the automotive industry. Now we’re preparing the next generation to address those indicators and it’s an exciting time,” said Joseph.
Boys & Girls Clubs nationwide help young people explore multiple paths to a career — including skilled trades. Through field trips, job shadowing, mentorship and hands-on experience, Club youth can find their unique calling to ensure they’re ready for a job in the trades when the time is right. Learn more about how Clubs support kids to pursue a career they love with confidence.