OKLAHOMA CITY – As college debt continues to skyrocket across the country, a local organization is hoping to give Oklahoma students career options that don’t require a bachelor’s degree.
On Wednesday, the Professional Women in Building Council of the Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association held an event to showcase trade careers.
“Our goal with Build My Future OKC is to introduce high school students to skill-based trades,” said Marla Esser Cloos, Build My Future OKC Planning Committee Chair. “We want to show these students various opportunities – that do not require a four-year college degree – where they can learn a skill that will provide them a stable and steady career.”
Officials say nearly 20 schools from the metro area brought 500 students to the first-time event.
Once at the event, students were able to meet with more than 30 exhibitors to learn more about various jobs within the skilled trade workforce like carpentry, masonry, electrical work, and heavy equipment operation.
“The new home construction industry – among other construction-focused industries – have a very high demand for skilled laborers,” said Denise Patterson, president of the Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association. “With 53 percent of skilled trades workers over the age of 45 and more than 20 percent of those workers at retirement age, the existing skilled trades gap is about to get bigger. We need these students to consider entering our field as skilled tradesmen to help fill these positions…they are our future workforce.”