'Dire need for trades.' NC Lawmakers hope investing in high school programs will address workforce

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Wednesday, March 22, 2023
NC Lawmakers look to high school programs to address workforce
Trade skills are in high demand right now and lawmakers are hoping to train more high schools students.

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Abi Pounders and Leilani Hernandez are still on a high from a huge win last week. The Rolesville High School seniors took first place in an electrical competition.

"It's just very really rewarding," said Hernandez.

The young women have been putting in long, hard hours and say the accolade means a lot as they're entering into the industry.

"It's kind of like a male-dominated field and for two girls to win it, during women in construction month - it's really cool to us," said Pounders.

They're enrolled in a trades program and when they graduate in June, they'll have a number of certifications to work as an electrician.

"It gives us actual real-life skills that we can use outside of school, and lots of job opportunities that I feel not a lot other elective classes offer," said Hernandez.

These skills are in high demand right now and lawmakers are hoping to train more high school students.

"We have a dire need for trades here in North Carolina, said Rep. Matthew Winslow.

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A bill has been introduced and is working its way through the House.

Lawmakers want to study ways to build up the workforce. A co-sponsor hopes it leads to more 11th and 12th enrolling in training programs.

Tim Stile is an instructor at Rolesville and knows firsthand the benefits. He's actually trying to expand the vocational offerings.

"(We're looking to add) hands-on carpentry, so share with the electrical at this school and hopefully that becomes a norm throughout the county and help these kids placed in careers,' said Stile.

That's Pounders and Hernandez. Both have job offers on the table and one is a six-figure position.

"We're planning to go right into the field after high school," said Pounders.

"It's very helpful knowing that we have that open and ready for us, so we won't have to stress about worrying - finding jobs or somewhere where we feel stable at,' said Hernandez.

Neither of the students have committed to a company just yet.

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