By: RK Mechanical If you were to ask a high school student about the options that their guidance counselor gives them for the future, most would tell you one thing: college. In the past 50 years, most schools (and parents) push their children to go to an institution of higher learning; they see it as the only option for gaining success, achievement, and a happy life. Let’s face it though: a lot of people are not cut out for college. This isn’t a bad thing either. There might be a stigma about it that has cropped up in recent years, but some people don’t want to be in school for another 4-8 years after just finishing 12 of them. It used to be that guidance counselors would offer the option of a vocational school, depending on the student that was sitting in front of them. Not so much anymore. In an article from Forbes magazine’s website[i], Genevieve Stevens, interim dean for instruction at Houston Community College’s central campus, said that “For two or three generations, the focus has been to go to college, get a degree and in doing so you will ensure a brighter future with more access to employment. We started focusing on academic institution, but left behind the notion of work-force education.” In light of this trend, the skilled trades industry has suffered. According to the same article, ManpowerGroup has listed for the last three years running that the hardest segment of the workforce to staff has been the skilled trades – welders, electricians, machinists, which are so prevalent in manufacturing and construction. There are indications that it’s only going to get worse in the coming years. RK Mechanical has a potential solution to this worrying development. RK has an apprenticeship program where apprentices get trained, and at the end of four years, they finish with a Journeyman’s license. Additionally, RK partners with the Community College of Aurora, Colorado (CCA) to give the apprentice the opportunity to complete an AA degree in Applied Science as part of that apprenticeship program. The message that RK wants to deliver is that college is a great path, but not the only one. A skilled trades path provides a rewarding career, financial stability, a sense of accomplishment, and a career track of increasing responsibility and rewards. The other great thing about working for RK is, in addition to the skilled trades path, you have the college option as well, in light of their partnership with CCA. It really is the best of both worlds. [i] Wright, Joshua. “America's Skilled Trades Dilemma: Shortages Loom As Most-In-Demand Group Of Workers Ages.” Forbes.com, March 17th, 2013. www.forbes.com/sites/emsi/2013/03/07/americas-skilled-trades-dilemma-shortages-loom-as-most-in-demand-group-of-workers-ages.