High school students and parents report high interest in skilled trade education and career opportunities but reveal more information is needed to inform their decision
PHOENIX (Dec. 12, 2019) – When it comes to making post-graduation decisions, the most common reason high school students do not consider attending a trade school is not knowing about the options available, according to a recent survey commissioned by StrataTech Education Group, a student-first company that offers schools with technical career education programs. StrataTech conducted the survey to explore the attitudes and beliefs about trade schools and skilled trade careers among young Americans and parents.
“For decades, students and parents have believed a 4-year degree is necessary to succeed in life, but we believe differently,” said Mary Kelly, president and CEO of StrataTech Education Group. “When it comes to secondary education, there isn’t a one-size fits all approach for all graduates. We’re optimistic this research shows perceptions are shifting and there are opportunities to strengthen pathways to skilled trade opportunities.”
The survey included 2,000 respondents, half of which are current high school students and half of which are parents to current high schoolers. Major takeaways included:
Today’s students and parents are interested in trade school education, but more information is needed
Parents and students most commonly reported their high schools promote 4-year universities (73%) and 2-year college programs (45%) as post-secondary education options. While 70% indicated their high school currently offers classes that align to the trades, only 32% reported their high school promotes trade school education as a potential path following graduation.
While slightly over half of the students (51%) shared they have considered attending a trade school, several cited several barriers to making that decision, including:
- Not knowing about the options available (33%)
- Expense (31%)
- Lack of confidence in ability to perform a skilled trade (26%)
- Pressure from the community to attend a 4-year university (23%)
Today’s parents would support their child’s decision to pursue a skilled trades career
The survey also revealed optimistic opinions among parents, indicating they view trade schools as a credible career path for their child and one they would support their child pursing through post-secondary education.
- Over 9 in 10 (93%) said they would support their child’s choice to pursue a career in skilled trades
- 62% said they would emotionally support their child’s choice
- 57% indicated they would offer major financial support to fund a majority of the education with 47% reporting they would offer limited financial support, such as letting their child continue living at home while pursuing a skilled trades certification
Today’s students turn to personal research followed by parents/family members to help inform their pathway
The survey also aimed to uncover student opinions about the sources they believe are most important to informing their decisions about their next steps following high school graduation. Personal research ranked as the highest (28%) followed by parents/family members (23%) as the most important sources. For personal research, students largely reported turning to online sources (59%) and social media (43%).
Trade schools and for-profit schools are viewed just as credible as traditional college
The majority of parents and students largely agreed a 4-year bachelor’s degree is required to secure a good job (70%) and offers a good return on investment (75%). Similarly, most respondents also shared for profit (82% parents/73% students) and trade or vocational schools (82% parents/73% students) are just as credible as traditional college.
Quality of life ranks as the most important variable for selecting a career
When asked to select attributes that are important to them in a career, most respondents selected stability (69%) and quality of life (69%). Although when asked about what is most important, quality of life outperformed stability (26% vs. 20%).
For more information about StrataTech Education Group, please visit www.stratatech.com.
The survey was fielded using the Qualtrics Insight Platform with the panel sourced from Lucid. Respondents included 1,000 high school students and 1,000 parents to high school student across the U.S.