A program in Snohomish and Island counties is helping high school students build a career in the trades.
The Sno-Isle Tech Skills Center offers classes in trades like construction, welding, veterinary assisting, and IT to juniors and seniors in high school.
“In a way it’s like running start for students in the trades,” said Jennifer Stutz, Sno-Isle construction trades teacher.
Students who are accepted into the program spend half their day at the center building a set of skills they can apply in the trade field after school. The program is open to students at 14 school districts.
In the construction program, students are building tiny homes for the homeless with the Low Income Housing Institute, which provided the materials.
“The project right now is truly theirs, and it’s fun to see them take that ownership,” Stutz said. “They run their own schedule, they check their materials, they manage all their own tools.”
Next year the construction classes will offer an apprenticeship program where students will work on job sites in addition to learning in class. Stutz says apprentices will gain specific skills and log hours to achieve journey status.
For Tobin Randall, an 11th grader at Sky Valley Education Center in Monroe, the construction trades program opened up a wider range of options to find work at a young age and gave him other choices beyond a four-year college degree.
“Right now the path that I’m on seems so clear and bright that it feels right,” Randall said.
As far as long-term goals, the program also aims to support the local economy by supplying Snohomish County with its next generation of workers.
“The construction industry is booming and in need of a new skilled workforce,” Stutz said. “Pretty cool that we get to help build that up.”