CCK helps kids explore trade and apprenticeship opportunities

Our College & Career Knowledge (CCK) program had a hectic fall, helping kids explore post-secondary education options at the Pittsburgh Aeronautics Institute (PA) and several apprenticeship training centers.

All of the visits were designed to give students who either have ruled college out or remain undecided a chance to look at alternatives that create paths to employment opportunities with family-sustaining incomes.

CCK also organizes campus immersion experiences for students who are identified as being candidates to earn two or four-year degrees, but weren’t necessarily planning to do so.

At PAI, students learned about both degree and certificate programs in aviation technology and/or maintenance.

Trade apprenticeship programs that opened their doors included Boilermakers Local 154, Ironworkers Local 3, the Steamfitters Technology Center in Harmony, and Sheet Metal Workers Local 12 training facility in Harmarville.

High schools that participated in one or more of the explorations included Belle Vernon, Pittsburgh Allderdice, Southmoreland and Yough.

Before visiting the Boilermakers and Sheet Metal Workers training centers in November, a young woman from Pittsburgh Allderdice told one of her teachers she didn’t know anything about the trades. But by the time she left, she was convinced that she might just have found a career path.

“Hearing this is what makes these trips so worthwhile,” said Nikki Schmidlein, the teacher who accompanied the Allderdice students on visits organized in partnership with Sheet Metal Workers and Boilermakers.

“In a society where going to college is made to be so important, it is crucial to understand that not all students will go to college,” Schmidlein added. “These visits open our students’ eyes to the different possibilities around them.”

One reason many kids find apprenticeships attractive is that the programs are free and pay wages for on-the-job training.