To increase awareness about the benefits of working in the trades, CEDC continues to collaborate with our local schools. We were pleased to assist Cadott with their Career Expo in early April. Through our many Business Expansion And Retention (BEAR) visits, we know the importance of skilled trades. These jobs vary from mechanics to construction workers, from welders to hairstylists, and are a critical component of our labor force. For years, interest in these skill trade jobs has continued to decline – in part because of the continued push by parents, teachers, and student peer groups to go to a university and get that four year degree.

CEDC investors and stakeholders throughout the Chippewa Valley gathered in the gym at Cadott High School for one reason – to educate CHS students that the skilled trades are a worthy option for them.  These companies are major employers in our community and understand the importance of promoting and educating the public on the need for trade workers. Collaborating with local trade businesses is the only way to change the perception of the trades within our local education system.

“Only 20% of our local high school seniors have indicated that they have an interest in entering a skilled trade or a trade school following high school graduation,” explained CEDC Board Member Ed Holand. “Celebrating those who choose the trades, encouraging students to enter the trades directly or via trade school, and informing the community about the benefits of these jobs is why we attend these type of events.”

According to Forbes, over 53% of workers employed in a skilled trade are nearing retirement age, and with the low interest in trade jobs from high school students, one can see why our local employers are having trouble finding workers.  Many of Chippewa Valley’s major employers have raised concerns about the future employment levels of the trades as a whole and used the event to remind students that they have choices and do not have to face crippling debt from getting a university diploma in an area that might not be hiring in the future. Entering the workforce sooner than their university counterparts might be an attractive option for them!