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Students To Learn Of Career Paths That Don't Require College

By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) - Colorado high school students will be hearing a lot more about careers in the trades and military this school year.

A new law requires schools to begin informing students of career pathways that don't require college when they prepare their Individual Career and Academic Plans.

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Representative Phil Covarrubias, (R) Brighton, helped pass the law.

Covarrubias, who owns his own excavation company, says he was 10-years-old when his dad began teaching him skills that would lead to a career in construction. Today, he says, many kids aren't learning those skills at home or school.

"The need for professional construction people in the industry is, I mean, we're down 60 thousand people," Covarrubias said.

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Rep. Phil Covarrubias (credit CBS)

If the state is going to fill the void, Covarrubias says, it needs to change the narrative that the only path to a good paying job is college.

"High school, college, jobs seems to have been what we've been saying for the last maybe 10 or 15 years."

He says construction and college aren't mutually exclusive. Some companies, he says, are even offering to pay for college to attract skilled workers and, he says, they pay well.

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"One of my friends, she's one them tower crane operators, fifty bucks an hour. If you want to be an engineer, good to start being out here first and learning how it really works and transferring from the blueprints to the actual."

He says education in the trades may help keep some students from dropping out of high school.

It will also virtually guarantee a job upon graduation in a state with a booming real estate market, growing population and massive shortage of skilled laborers.

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"Who's going to build all the roads? Who's going to build the infrastructure? Who's going to take over the next five, 10, and 20 years. We need to be able to offer all the different opportunities to the young people and we can start building the American workforce again and getting the help we need out here."

The Colorado office of Career and Technical Education says about three dozen schools in the state have construction programs, and nearly 4,200 high school kids enrolled in one of those programs last school year.

Shaun Boyd is CBS4's political specialist. She's a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.

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