CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – If your student had a field trip Thursday to an expo at the Canfield Fairgrounds, they should have plenty to talk about. Skilled trades showcased a pathway for a future career and helped kids see how it could fit into their lives.
There were many hands-on opportunities at the first Skilled Trades Expo.
“Today I learned how to lay a brick and virtual welding,” said Shaquez Griffin, a Youth Build student. “I learned many different trades and I did virtual welding. That was pretty fun, pretty cool.”
Over 4,000 high schoolers from six counties got to learn about the skilled trades and that it could be a good fit for them after graduation.
“I liked the painting and home design,” said Alyssa Griffin, a Newton Falls student. “I actually wasn’t interested in skilled trades until I got here.”
The event presented information about good-paying jobs that don’t require four, or even two, years of college. Workers can get paid while they train.
“I don’t think people realize the kind of money we make,” said Brian Collier, with Bricklayers and Tilesetters Union Local #8. “Most trades is $30 an hour just in the pocket. That don’t include our fringe benefits.”
There remains a big need for people in skilled trades in the Mahoning and Shenango valleys.
Normally, the unions do job fairs and sit behind tables with pamphlets. This brought their skills to life for students.
“I think part of it was the opportunity to see what we do,” said Marty Loney, with the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union. “I think some of the school districts have started to talk about us and now they see it firsthand.”
The Builder’s Association of Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania and the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber Foundation hosted the event.
While the expo was successful, the real test will be seeing if it translates into more people enrolling in apprenticeship programs and learning a trade.