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Trade school interest in Michigan is increasing instead of college education

Trade schools in Michigan seeing high interest from youth
Trade schools in Michigan seeing high interest from youth 01:50

(CBS DETROIT) - "The pay is really well, and the work is really good," says 21-year-old electrical apprentice Eric Unruh.

Unruh is three years into his young career and says choosing a career in the trades has been the best decision for him.

"School wasn't my biggest thing, and I've always really been hands-on so I wanted to do something that I really liked and working with my hands and being creative with my hands and my mind, that's what I really like," Unruh told CBS News Detroit on Wednesday at the Southeast Michigan Construction Academy location in Westland.

According to data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, enrollment in construction trades courses increased by over 19.3% from 2021-2022. In that same period, mechanic and repair saw an 11.5% increase and precision and production saw a 16.7% increase.

"Just five years ago, we had about 180 students in SEMCA classes. As of today, we're nearing 700," says Deanna Morley, the Vice President of the Southeast Michigan Construction Academy. She says she's noticed a massive spike in students like Unruh showing an interest in the trades.

"There's a lot of chatter around college and university debt and not everybody wants to have a traditional educational secondary path," Morley says.

That sentiment alone, the cost of a college degree, is what Unruh echoes. He says although he may just be an apprentice right now, he has much bigger goals that lie ahead of the training he's apart of now.

"Eventually I want to get my journeyman's here in a couple of years. And then after that, I want to have my masters and open up my own company," Unruh says.

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