Author: Cieana Detloff
As a kid who grew up being told “You’ll never go to college,” I have to say…I am genuinely excited when I hear about the government allocating money for education. I just about did cartwheels when I learned that the Perkins Act was re-authorized, as it allows the States to apply for funding for technical and trade schools. And when schools have subsidies, students have greater access to better career paths. I know! I speak from experience!
At the ripe ‘old’ age of 7, my parents began to reiterate that I would not be sent to college. It’s not that they thought I wasn’t smart (I was), but that they knew they’d never be able to afford it (they couldn’t). With every subsequent apology, my resolve grew stronger and stronger. You see, there is nothing more motivating than being told “you can’t”. It was 1989 and I was in second grade when I had decided I was absolutely, definitely going to college – no matter what. (Some people who know me call me ‘stubborn’. I like to think of myself more as…. ‘determined’. ;D)
I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I knew education was the key, and I knew that the money just had to be out there. If I worked hard enough, studied, earned straight A’s and hunted for it, I knew I could catapult myself from the suburbs to the ‘Big City’ (I’ll always be a Chicago girl). Over the course of my junior and senior years in high school, I applied for 75 scholarships – everything from $500 awards from local real estate companies to essay writing contests from Korean American Associations. Out of 75 scholarship applications / essays / interviews, I won 5 of them and this was enough money to help me get through my first year of college. I worked the rest of the way through and saved as much as I could; now today….15 years into my career…I’m thinking of the people out there that are hunting….hunting for opportunity – and the money that is available to help them!!!
And with a great need for skilled tradespeople, it’s more important than ever that we financially support willing participants to fill the gap being left by those retiring. This is why I’m grateful for groups like SMRP, who actively advocate for education and workforce development funding, in addition to the Association for Career & Technical Education, which provides leads for grants and scholarships for HVAC, Construction, and other critical trades. If you know of any other funding for folks to acquire essential skills or continue their education, please share them here in the comments section!
I love connecting people with opportunities, but what really excites me is when Industry Connects with students. This is happening right now – ChampionNow is actively working with high schools and colleges to introduce career opportunities within manufacturing – and some manufacturers are directly partnering with local schools to open students’ minds from a very early age to the possibilities that exist in STEM fields (read more from my earlier blog).
My point in saying all this is….the money is out there!! How are you as a school going to use it to support your curriculum? How are you as a trade organization going to communicate its availability or advocate for continued funding? How are you as a manufacturer or member driving industry going to partner with educational institutions to develop your workforce? I have no doubt you’ll all have answers to these questions…..I just want to get you thinking… because WE CAN DO IT!!! 😀