For Gen Zers, high-tech blue collar jobs are all the rage

The notion of attending a four-year university is quickly falling out of favor. For Gen Zers, high-tech blue collar jobs are all the rage Giphy

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As many of their Millennial and Generation X elders remain mired under mounds of college debt, those young adults in Generation Z are rethinking the common wisdom regarding how to get ahead in a rapidly changing economy.

And while four-year colleges are still getting their share of applicants, there’s a different career path that appeals to many of these folks.

Plumbers, welders, and electricians — oh my!

Skeptical of the payoff from obtaining an expensive bachelor’s degree and disinterested in their parents’ seemingly boring office jobs, Gen Zers like 20-year-old Tanner Burgess are going back to the basics by learning a trade that is always in demand.

He recently completed a nine-month program to become a welder and has already landed a good job at a new hospital being built in San Diego.

“It’s a really smart route for kids who want to find something and aren’t gung ho on going to college,” Burgess said, noting that he was initially drawn to welding “because it had a lot of fire.”

Technology continues to change the game

You don’t need to look any further than the latest statistics to see that trade schools are heating up as four-year colleges and universities lose their luster.

  • Vocational institution enrollment spiked 16% last year
  • Construction-related trade schools gained 23% more students in 2023.
  • There was a 7% increase in vehicle maintenance and HVAC programs.

These graduates can also expect to make a good living, as evidenced by the 5.1% median pay bump for new construction workers last year. And these aren’t your grandparents’ vocations.

Robots and AI have revolutionized most trades, meaning the tech skills Gen Zers have been honing all their lives give them a leg up while presenting them with an opportunity to put their minds and hands to work.

Chris Agee
Chris Agee April 2nd, 2024
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