Infrastructure and workforce development have taken center stage in Washington D.C. in the last few months. At the same time, high school students and young adults in Los Angeles have been participating in hands-on training through a new program called Skilled Trades Summers. The program, which has been up and running at six sites across Los Angeles County, offers students the opportunity to earn valuable industry-based credentials.
We went out to the Skilled Trades Summers sites and talked to teachers about why high school skilled trades education is essential.
Anthony DeSanto, the construction teacher at Port of Los Angeles High School in San Pedro, CA, said skilled trades education is “the first positive educational experience a lot of kids have had. When I get these students in the 11th grade…a light bulb goes off and they see something in themselves they haven’t seen before.’’
Pam Richardson, the welding teacher at Port of Los Angeles High School, said she is always talking to her students about career opportunities in the skilled trades. “If you learn how to weld, you can own a company, you can be a contractor, you can be a foreman.’’
Joe Campbell, who teaches construction at Glendale High School, said “Everybody can do it. It’s necessary. Twenty percent of the population in California… finishes with a college degree. We don’t have an 80 percent unemployment rate.’’
Skilled Trades Summers is designed to create opportunities for high school students and recent graduates to earn industry-based credentials with substantial employability value. Students participate in work-based learning, earn high school or college course credits and earn a summer wage.
Skilled Trades Summers is being funded by Harbor Freight Tools for Schools, a program of The Smidt Foundation, which is dedicated to the advancement of excellent skilled trades education in U.S. public high schools.
The program is being offered in partnership with six organizations: Long Beach and Glendale unified school districts, Alliance for Community Empowerment, South Bay Workforce Investment Board, Hire LAX and Port of Los Angeles High School.