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Dual Credit Education Opportunities

For a long time, I have been saying the solution to the worker shortage will necessitate action from a variety of stakeholders—industry, academia, government, and more. In many areas, we are beginning to see action aimed at spurring students to consider careers in the trades. So today let’s look at one example from Kentucky.

Senate Bill 164

The approval of Senate Bill 164 during the 2024 session of the Kentucky General Assembly offers new opportunities for construction trade students, particularly those studying the licensed trades of electric, plumbing, and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning).

Under Senate Bill 164, students chasing careers in these areas will be able to enroll in dual credit courses that provide a transition from the classroom to the workforce. Here is how this will work: By earning credits at licensed proprietary schools like the Enzweiler Building Institute while completing their high school education, students can hasten their career pathways and gain a competitive edge in the job market.

Public schools and proprietary institutions like the Enzweiler Building Institute can work together to empower students to earn academic credits while gaining hands-on experience and practical skills essential for success in their chosen fields.

The Building Industry Assn. of Northern Kentucky looks forward to working with public schools, area technology centers, workforce development partners, and industry leaders to maximize the impact of Senate Bill 164 and ensure its successful implementation. Ultimately, this will benefit construction trade students throughout the region.

Certainly, this is only one example of how legislation is impacting trade career paths. For many years, we have sat and watched as parents have encouraged children to consider one route: college. But now many parents and students alike are beginning to realize there are paths to a fulfilling and successful career.

The History of Education in America

Let’s look back for a minute to see the transformation that has occurred in education in the past decade and a half. An eye-opening 2011 Pew Research Center poll found among parents of a child ages 17 or younger, 94% say they expect their child (or children) to attend college. About three-quarters (77%) of those surveyed agreed it is necessary for a woman to have a college education to get ahead in life; 68% said the same about men.

The bottomline: parents in 2011 wanted their children to go to college. This was right about the time college enrollment was at its highest as well. Education Data Initiative data shows enrollment peaked in 2010 at 21.02 million. Since 2010, enrollment has declined 9.8%. The number of total enrolled post-secondary students declined by 4.9% from 2019 to 2021, the most significant rate of decline in enrollment since 1951.

Now, let’s consider what the education landscape looked like a decade later, in 2021. According to the Family Voices study, which is a survey of U.S. parents conducted by Carnegie Corp., and Gallup, 46% of parents say even if there were no barriers to their child earning a bachelor’s degree, they would prefer another postsecondary option. Only a decade later we see many parents would prefer their children don’t pursue college. The tides have certainly turned.

What parents want varies. Certainly 46% of parents aren’t all encouraging trade school. Some of them want children to go to community college or develop a specific career path such as paralegal or dental hygienist. Parents are twice as likely to say they want their child to complete a noncollege-based skills training program rather than enroll in a community college. Other parents simply prefer their child to pursue a path that does not involve any education such as starting a business, doing volunteer work, joining the military, securing a job right out of high school, or taking time off.

What Comes Next

All of this comes at a time when workforce trends are evolving rapidly. Peeling back the layers of the workforce, many changes have come by the workforce’s own hands, while others are the result of the diversity changes in the corporate population and changes in the American labor pool. Each workforce layer reveals changes in education and skills are rapidly creating a dramatic transition in industries and their need for greater emphasis on technology and a refined talent pool with a more sharpened skillset.

This is something we precisely cover in our report Who Is The Worker of Tomorrow? The answer to the question posed in the survey is wide and vast and something every company needs to consider as work ratchets up. We need to address the skills gap and consider how we will reskill and upskill workers, while also actively investing in workforce development programs.

As we move forward into a new era of education and a new era of work, Senate Bill 164 provides a changing initiative to offer dual credit education opportunities for people considering long-term, fulfilling careers in the licensed construction trades. Of course, this is only one example. Opportunities abound for industry, academia, government, and more, to come together to solve the labor shortage together, as one united force.

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