Over 600 Apprentices Report for the First Day of School

The sights and sounds of a trade school in action are officially back as the team kicked off the start of the fall semester at the end of August.
More than 600 students, new and returning, filled the classrooms and shop as they settled in for the new year. However, just a few years ago, school enrollment was around 200, so what’s behind the huge increase in students?
For Spencer Fackler, a third-year
electrical apprentice, it was about choosing a career that avoided struggling with college debt and got him working right away.
“I had always thought about going into the trades because no one in my family did and I thought it would be great to be able to fix things, but the cost of school was an added benefit,” Fackler said. “Everyone I know from my high school graduating class who went to college is staring down a path filled with student loans. It’s nice to not have the same issue working in my field while also going to school.”
Andy Barnum, director of training and development for Lee Contracting said another reason behind the increase is the respect tradespeople get from society now. Lee Contracting has 19 men and women enrolled in SEMCA’s programs and remains committed to helping newer tradespeople flourish in the industry.
“There’s a shift from what we saw 10–20 years ago, where the trades were viewed as this last-ditch option. Finally, we’re showing how valuable and incredible the trades are and how a career in the trades can really blossom into a very fruitful and full life,” Barnum said.
In total, SEMCA enrolled 605 students — 11 welding students, 26 carpentry students and 568 electrical students.
“What we’re finding is our demographics are changing fairly dramatically,” said SEMCA president and CEO Keith Ledbetter. “For many years they were telling everyone, ‘If you wanted to get
a successful career, that meant you
have to go to college.’ But today, people are starting to realize that that’s not
the case.”
Ledbetter continued saying that when students come here, they finally find their sense of belonging and learn that working with your hands can be rewarding and students find their mission
in life.
SEMCA winter enrollment is open on their website. ABC members interested in enrolling employees in electrical, welding, and heavy construction should visit semcaschool.org for the online application.