New website helps high school graduates break from traditional 4-year degree

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — High school graduation will be here before you know it. Seniors are using the next few months to plan their steps.

There are a number of paths young adults can take post-high school.

A new website shows alternative options to a traditional 4-year-degree.

“There are these career pathways that exist anything from a bricklayer, to an operating engineer, to a painter, to a finisher,” explained Paul Nolley, Project First Rate’s executive director.

For high school students thinking about life after graduation, paths that don’t include college are available. Locally, Project First Rate is helping grads discover careers with a new website.

“[The website] offers resources, information, description, and video related to building trades to apprenticeship programs and all the things one would need to be informed and prepare for the next step to apply for the trade,” Nolley explained.

Nolley says it’s a great resource for people who are curious about the trades.

“The union construction industry in our area is very strong. There are a lot of men and women working in this field and there’s always a need for the next wave and the next generation of workers,” he added.

Greg Harle is the training director at Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Local 23.

“The skills are measuring, cutting, connecting, and support. So everything in the piping industry that you see your heating cooling and refrigeration, plumbing, so those are the systems we install and those are the skills apprentices are learning in the 5 years they are here,” Harle said.

“There’s no tuition. You get out in 5 years typically, and you have mastered a craft. You’re on the job making a great salary a great wage and you have no student loan debt afterwards,” added Nolley.

Harle says he’s grateful for the career path he chose.

“I can tell you that for the last 20 years my wife has been a stay at home mom if she would have been here I would be at home as a stay at home dad right now so the opportunity has a lot of potential for what you can do with your family,” Harle added.

There are 17 different trades you can look into on the website.

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