TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — There's a lack of skilled labor in Tallahassee and around the country.
Reports show blue collar workers are disappearing and in demand. Tallahassee offers an array of work-based training programs through various schools, so why aren't more high school kids taking advantage of them?
Air conditioning technicians, plumbers, mechanics, and welders. If you think these are outdated, low-paying professions, think again.
Many local high schools and colleges like Tallahassee Community College and Lively Technical Center offer courses to train students in the labor field. But TCC officials say there is a stigma attached to these types of jobs.
"The stigma can really be categorized as misinformation. I don't think the students understand what someone who fixes the air conditioners at FSU really does," said Marcus Nicolas, Associate Dean of Academic Partnerships and College Success.
Nicolas says there has been an upswing in students interested in pursuing blue collar careers, but moving forward there needs to be more information provided to more students using as many platforms as possible like social media.
"I think if we go where the students are they will find the program to be interesting enough number one, but also it is beneficial for those who don't want a traditional liberal arts program of four years plus," said Nicolas.
He says if students knew more about the opportunities the programs can provide there would be more interest.
"I think it is the misinformation that has deterred students from wanting to enter into these very lucrative positions," said Nicolas.
There are over 70 workforce-based programs at TCC. These are marketable skills based courses where students learn specific skills and are ready to get to work.
Starting salaries for many skilled labor positions in our area are quite competitive.
According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Labor Statistics, welders start at about $17 an hour, surgical technicians make about $20 an hour, firefighters also start at about $20 per hour, air conditioning technicians start at $17 per hour, and cybersecurity at $27 an hour.