In today’s rapidly evolving and specialized job market, employers are constantly seeking ways to empower their workforce, increase efficiency, and gain a competitive advantage.
One often overlooked strategy is supporting employees through trade school education. This might seem like a substantial investment at first. However, the potential benefits and returns, ranging from improved satisfaction to an enriched set of company-wide skills, are considerable.
Let’s delve into how supporting your employees through trade school can bring a boatload of incentives and foster a thriving and dynamic work environment for your company.
What is Trade School?
Also known as vocational or technical schools, trade schools are educational institutions specifically designed to skill students for a certain occupation. Examples include careers in automotive mechanics, medical assisting, plumbing, electrical, or HVAC technology.
In these programs, unlike traditional colleges, you immerse yourself in hands-on training, focusing almost exclusively on job-related skills. For those seeking a direct path to a specialized career, trade schools are a fantastic option. It’s an experience that can open many doors.
What Does Trade School Offer?
Before you think about supporting your employees through trade school, you should consider what this path provides for you and your employees. Here are five things trade school offers.
1. Hands-On Training
Traditional classroom instruction is beneficial, but nothing compares to tangible, hands-on learning that is synonymous with trade schools. For instance, when you get hands-on training at Pennco Tech’s trade programs, students are actively engaging with their profession firsthand.
This unique blend of learning and practical application ensures employees gain invaluable experience that translates directly into their future occupation in construction and the trades.
2. Structured Classes
In such a structured class environment, your time is clearly scheduled with well-planned curriculum-based activities. This structure helps your employees know what to expect each day, minimizing the guesswork and enhancing their learning experience, even if they’re part-time.
These structured class days ensure employees use their time effectively, allowing them to comfortably manage their work-life balance without the fear of missing out on academics.
3. Small Class Sizes
Imagine being in a learning environment where your questions are promptly answered, and the instructor knows your strengths and areas of improvement. Unlike university classes, where individual attention can be harder to come by, trade school classes usually have fewer students.
This intimate learning environment fosters a close-knit community that directly benefits your employee’s education. With fewer students, each individual receives personalized attention.
4. Required Tools (Sometimes)
Some trade schools also have another perk worth mentioning—they provide students with the required tools for their programs. This can be a significant advantage as it familiarizes your employees with the professional equipment they will likely use in their future job and careers.
While this isn’t a guarantee at all trade schools, it’s certainly a characteristic that benefits many students. It’s all about giving your employees a head-start in their vocation from day one!
5. Preparation for a License
One of the most valuable aspects of trade school programs is their robust preparation for professional licensing. Certain jobs require specific certifications before your employees can officially begin work in their field. Trade school prepares students to gain this certification.
This kind of focused preparation can make your employee’s transition from student to construction professional easier and more efficient, setting them on the path to success.
Why Employers Should Pay For Trade School
Now comes the most important question: is there a reason for employers to pay for trade school? There are several, actually. Here’s why employers should pay for education.
1. The Trades are Desperate for Skilled Workers
According to PeopleReady, the number of skilled trade jobs is outpacing the supply of qualified workers to fill them. 90% of general contractors are worried about a possible labor shortage, and they should be, as demands for electricians, plumbers, and carpenters have risen more than 100%. The need for concrete masons has risen by nearly 904% from 2021 to 2022.
The trades offer great pay, benefits, and plenty of opportunities for growth for talented employees. However, with the high cost of living coupled with a poor work-life balance in the trades leaves construction workers with no time or money to seek out education themselves.
If employers step up and provide their new employees with a chance to enter into a trade school, they’ll never have to worry about a labor shortage. In fact, they’ll even be able to adopt apprenticeship programs once they train up a bunch of journeypeople in their workforce.
2. Employers Can Attract More Employees
Unfortunately, the trades don’t have a positive reputation amongst students. In Canada, for example, 96% of people agree that the country has a skilled labor shortage, but 76% would never work in the trades. This sentiment is no different in the United States or the United Kingdom.
One of the reasons for this reputation is how constricting a journeyperson certification can be for young people. After all, students are more likely to get a new job with a bachelor’s degree, even if the career isn’t in their field. However, few employers view a journeyperson certification as equivalent to a bachelor’s degree despite the fact it’s the same thing in a skills sense.
Employers looking to attract new employees should absolutely include free trade school as a benefit. This will show job seekers that the industry wants to support new workers.
However, the trick here is getting new employees excited at the thought of working in the trades. Start by attending high school job fairs, as it’s a great way to connect to future workers.
3. Retaining Employees Made Easy
Some employers fear that providing free education is a waste of time and money. After all, can’t your employees just leave after they’ve gained those skills? While yes, your employees could leave, it’s still unlikely this will happen. An SHRM Learning & Development Trends Report from 2022 proved that 76% of employees will stay with a company that offers continuous training.
In that same study, 86% of HR professionals believe that training achieves high employee retention. These numbers are so high because employees feel valued if their employers show an interest in their success. And employees will stick around if they feel that you care for them.
Training becomes even more important when it comes to keeping the younger generations engaged. Both Millennials and Gen Z prefer organizations that help them develop their skills.
4. Increased Employee Satisfaction
By funding trade school education for current employees, companies can greatly enhance employee satisfaction. This policy shows employees that their employers value them, their skills, and their professional growth. This investment in staff can boost morale and employee satisfaction, thereby fostering a more positive and productive work environment.
Improving motivation is an important thing, especially in a field where so many employees are understandingly checked out. According to Gallup, 32% of full- and part-time employees feel engaged. 18% are actively disengaged, and this number grows higher every single year.
But when you offer to pay for trade school, you’re drastically improving your employee’s health and happiness. And happiness is a great motivator to stay inside construction and the trades.
5. New Skills and Knowledge
Sponsoring trade school education allows employees to acquire new skills and knowledge. This benefits the company by adding breadth and depth to their teams’ skill sets. As employees broaden their skill range, they can contribute to the company in innovative and valuable ways.
Most importantly, trade school equips you with staff that are on the cutting edge of their industry. While there’s no doubt that experience is valuable, new eyes can also contribute to your business wholly. Innovation is greatly needed in the trades, especially to cut down costs.
6. Limited Time and Costs
Trade school programs are often shorter and more focused than traditional college courses. In fact, many professionals can earn a trade school degree in two years. If you compare this with an apprenticeship program (three to five years), trade school is still the fastest option.
By supporting employees through these programs, companies can expect a faster return on investment. The time and money saved can be significant when compared to the potential output and contribution of a more skilled employee. While not investing in school is the cheapest option, you still need skilled employees. Plus, trade school is cheaper than apprenticing.
Trade school may cost employers $10,000, whereas an apprentice is paid $15 per hour. However, as they improve their skills, they’ll be paid more. By the end of your apprentice’s first year, you’ve already tripled the cost of trade school. And with trade school, it’s a one-and-done thing. When your employee is done, they can get right to work on the most difficult tasks.
In the end, employers save money and get a skilled employee. What’s better than that?
7. Inspired Employee Loyalty
Sponsoring your employees’ trade school education can inspire profound employee loyalty.
Employees are likely to appreciate and value a company that invests in their personal and professional growth. This loyalty can result in a lower employee turnover rate, saving the company resources in the long run while maintaining a dedicated, high-performing workforce.
Employee loyalty is hard to earn, especially in today’s work climate. However, employers have to take a chance on their employees to gain that loyalty. Don’t be afraid to invest in your workers, as it can lead to incredible gains in employee engagement, morale, and efficiency.
When it comes to success and growth, investing in your employees stands as one of the most effective strategies. Empowering them with the right tools and education not only sharpens their skills but also promotes a more motivated and loyal workforce that seeks to support them.
If you’re an employer considering this route, remember that the investment in trade school education for your employees can yield significant returns for them and for your company’s long-term prosperity. It’s time to explore the potential benefits and transform your company through education. Your journey towards a thriving workforce may just be a trade school away.