Most people familiar with the public school system are aware of the dwindling opportunities in high school today for students to learn welding, wood shop, and even the time-honored auto shop. Schools are tending to focus on college prep subjects at the expense of skills training programs. However, just as athletes are introduced to a variety of sports through physical education classes, many tradesmen are introduced to skilled labor at a young age, either through family connections or high school programs. Losing these programs represents a major blow to the industry as potential candidates are steered away from viable careers in ship building and pipefitting in favor of a traditional college degree (often with little skills training and low direct job relevance).
If high school students are interested in a skilled trade not offered through their school, they may still have the opportunity to test out that interest before graduating.

Local Trade Schools and Community Colleges
Search for technical colleges and community colleges in your town, county, or region. Outside of their regular training programs, these education centers may offer workshops and training sessions for those trying to pick up a skilled trade. They may also be good resources for where you can get further outside training. Some high schools may actually let you enroll in a program for credit.

Work Study Programs
Talk to your guidance counselor about enrolling in a work study program. Sometimes schools already have an established list of employers they can refer you to if you are interested. In a work study program, high school students will receive school credit while being trained in real career skills and even being paid. Some students may be restricted from participating in work study programs due to state working age requirements. This is another reason why you need to consult with your school’s guidance counselor before setting up a work study program.

Transfer to a Vocational High School
If you’re committed to pursuing a technical career, you may want to think about transferring to a technical high school if there’s one in your area. Although they are more common in industrial and urban areas, technical high schools are setting up shop across the entire country, offering early, specialized programs for career-minded students.
For more information about the scholarships Tulsa Welding School offers to graduating high school students for our Florida and Oklahoma trade schools, contact a TWS representative.

Resources:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/tarabrown/2012/05/30/the-death-of-shop-class-and-americas-high-skilled-workforce/
http://www.machinerylubrication.com/Read/1813/poll-skilled-trades-rank-low-in-teens’-career-options
http://www.usnews.com/education/high-schools/articles/2011/11/11/students-excel-at-vocational-technical-high-schools
http://www.ehow.com/how_4423309_do-high-school-work-study.html