Vocational/Trade Training Program for Young Man

A young man I know, the son of a family friend, is going to graduate from high school shortly. He’s not interested in college (smart kid, but doesn’t think college is for him).

We were talking about how a young guy, with a high school diploma, can make his way into a skilled trade. He’s interested in becoming an electrician, or a plumber, or maybe a carpenter. He’d be open to suggestions of other trades too.

Does anyone know anything about how one gets training and opportunity for this kind of work in New York City? I see all those ads on the subway and TV for for-profit schools that promise the world, but I’m not sure I trust those.

Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

[Tongue in cheek]Lucky dog to have all those options on the table.[/Tongue in cheek]. My plumber bills out at $50 more an hour than my lawyer does. Most of the guys that age I know who aren’t going to college are getting into some sort of machining.

Some of those for-profit schools might be fine, but some of them are more interested in enrolling students at high fees so that they can collect the student loan money than they are in actually training and educating students. So he might first look into programs through community colleges and other public schools. They might also be cheaper than the for-profit schools.

Since the OP is looking for advice, let’s move this to IMHO.

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It might also be worth a shot look up a plumbing/electrician/general contractor outfit that’s hiring right now and seeing what qualifications they’re looking for. Any decent shop that’s been in business for a while should know what schools actually teach and which ones just collect money and issue meaningless diplomas.

Automotive service manager here. I see a lot of vo-tech grads that are woefully inadequately prepared work in the real world.
My first question for the young man would be, What do you want to do?
Training for plumbing when he really wants to be a carpenter, would not be a good idea.
Secondly I would suggest he speak with a few companies that are in the business to see what school they consider to be good at training.
Finally, if he does decide to sign on the line and go to school, he needs to make damn sure he applies himself and actually LEARNS the material.

On final thought, how about the military? The Navy Seabees for example will teach him a trade.

Do the unions actually train, or are they more interested in weeding out applicants?

Some unions do. Consulting unions about training programs is a good way to start. Situations vary, but it’s possible to get training and apprenticeships through unions. They also have a very good idea about the job prospects currently and for several years into the future.

Another vote for the military. Paid training, health insurance, room & board, opportunity for advancement, and if he likes it a chance at a career with early retirement.

I second this and it is usually how it is done in Ireland and the UK.

I know many tradesmen in the Irish community and they’ve all done very well.

Could anyone elaborate on the military options? Does the young man get to choose what trade he wants to learn? Are all the branches equally likely to train someone in certain trades? How does it work?

Has he considered working for Sanitation? He just needs a high school diploma, a Commercial Driver’s license, and to sit for the exam. Here’s how:

All the unions in New York State who are currently taking apprentices are listed here:

For a HS-grad adged teen who qualifies as low-income, there’s also [url=http://www.jobcorps.gov/home.aspx]Job Corps*

It’s been 20 years since I left the Air Force, so the process may have changed somewhat, but it starts with a trip to the recruiters. They’ll explain the current options, and let the kid take a test to see what he may qualify for. In my day, if you qualified for a particular job you wanted, you could be guaranteed a chance at training for it. You may have to wait a little longer to go to basic training in some fields due to limited openings in that field. Of course, if you washed out of training, you could find yourself stuck in something less desirable for the duration of your contract.

I’m partial to the Air Force, but all of the branches have hundreds of career fields available, with all sorts of possibilities.

Where I’m from we have trade schools for that, and there’s a big demand for tradesman. If he goes through with it, he’s going to make a ton of cash. Plumbing was my second career choice.

Around here (Kansas) construction tradesmen start as helpers and move on to apprenticeships through a union. It’s hard to get an apprenticeship without a sponser. Electricians & plumbers for sure, not sure if all carpenters do but I know some do, while HVAC guys go through the local vo-tech. I would imagine NYC unions would be even stronger.

The only building tradesman I knew in the Army already were journeyman before enlisting.

I would have him contact a local contractor and ask what the process is there. I would be leery of for-profit schools but they are not all bad.

I am a machinist by trade and would encourage any person to consider the trades especially now with a lot of baby boomers getting ready to retire. There is always room to move into management later if they desire. I was pushed towards college in high school (decent grades and tied for high ACT in my class) and went to college after the army but it didn’t fit me. I like machining so much I do it as a hobby as well.

Unions do indeed train. And NYC will be a good place for that. Have him go to some of the locals and talk to the Business Manager for that local. He or she will be able to fill him in on apprenticeship programs and so forth. I’ve sent several young men who weren’t interested in college to union training. It’s been good for them.

In many cases, going to school won’t benefit anyone without an apprenticeship already in place. For instance, the state requirements for apprenticing electricians here are 8000 hours of on the job working under a licensed master electrician and concurrent 600 hours of classroom time of Related Technical Instruction. Apprentices must be in an approved training program to be able to register with the state, so any classes an individual takes at a vocational school or anywhere on their own won’t count if they do begin an official apprenticeship.

That said, since many companies that used to offer apprenticeships no longer do and getting on with a union might be a good opportunity, taking a level one class to get some familiarity might be a good idea. It certainly would look good to show a commitment on the student’s part to potential hiring people.

This is really helpful. Thanks!

Yes unions do train. It starts by taking and passsing the apprenticeship. My local only tests every two years. Not sure about other unions or locals. Start by going onthe web and looking up the different unions and their apprenticeship programs. Most are 4 or 5 years. Then visit the different locals in the area to find out how to signup for the test.

If he likes working onmany different things have him check out the Operating Engineers, stationary locals, they are big on apprentices. When I got into this trade most of the engineers I worked with exNavy or exMarchant Marine. Today we are the exception, most now have graduated from the apprenticeship program. And quite a few of the Directors of Engineering are former union members who graduated from the apprenticeship program.

Is this me? Did I accidentially change my screen name?

Hallboy and I went through this just a few months ago–nearly identical situation: Hallboy graduated from high school, decent grades, not 100% sure what he wanted to do, but knew he wasn’t ready for college. He did end up enlisting in the Air Force (he’s now waiting to be called for BMT–that’s Basic Military Training for all you civilians).

To answer your question, yes, he can choose which trades he wants to learn, IF he scores well enough on the ASVAB testing and he’s qualified once he passes his physical. In Hallboy’s situation, there was a “slight colorblindness” (whatever that is) detected in Hallboy’s physical exam, and although this didn’t disqualify him from the military, it did disqualify him from some of the jobs he selected. However, he did qualify for several other jobs (and listed up to six jobs he’d like to do). Once he’s in and has experience under his belt, he can shift into another area if he decides to do that. (My son-in-law is also in the Air Force and did the same thing.) Another thing that may limit what he can do is if he doesn’t drive. (Hallboy doesn’t yet have his license.)

Hallboy has already decided that he will let the military put him through college–once he decides what he wants to do in college. Until then, he has the opportunity to get training for a career, get paid to do it, see a bit of the world, and get some decent benefits–all of which is more than many of the 18 year olds he knows can say.