Skilled trade training programs are vital to developing skills in students entering the trades and helping to close the skills gap, but what makes a great training program? What’re best practices for skilled trade training programs? What do the best training programs do differently? We set out to answer these questions by surveying 50 programs across the country about how they connect with students, alumni, and industry partners. Through these conversations, we found patterns that go across locations and school types, from community colleges and high schools to apprenticeships and workforce development programs.
We identified the biggest pain points and best practices of the programs training trade workers around the country. The best programs form the center of a community with benefits on all ends of the spectrum, including current students, alumni, and employers. It all starts with the communication in this network.
What’s often overlooked in today’s programs is the importance of removing uncertainty for students entering skilled trades careers. Put simply from a welding student in California,
“I’m not sure where I’ll wind up after this,”
Many students don’t know the pathway from their program to a thriving skilled trade career, so great programs are key to making this clear. They do this with constant connections to employers, shop visits, and more — all components to a well educated trade student that go beyond skills education.
One of the best ways to demonstrate pathways to current students is a tight alumni network. Alumni are invaluable for hiring opportunities and inside knowledge of employers. Establishing a system for staying in touch is one of the best steps programs can take to ensure the success of future cohorts– not to mention they’re a great resource for filling instructor positions at training programs.
As for employers, many schools rely on personal connections to build and maintain these crucial relationships, but they require an unreasonable amount of work from already overburdened instructors.
“We don’t have anything other than me passing on a job opportunity,” said one school administrator.
The best schools combine this hands-on touch with a system to identify matches between hiring companies and available graduates, systematically involving employers at every step of their program.
We asked all of these questions, and more, in our quest to identity how the best training programs operate, and how WorkHands can help. In the coming weeks, we’ll roll out key findings for each side that engages with training programs so stay tuned… And if you want to tell us more about what your training program’s doing to be successful, we’d love to hear from you.