High school students have more post-graduation options than going to a college or university.

Dennis Alvirena-Flores and Jeff Deiderich, meanwhile, argue it’s more worthwhile going into a skilled trade field to earn an income right away, rather than accruing student debt at a college.

The pair were among nine speakers who spoke Tuesday, representing six skilled trade companies or unions, at the third annual Exploring Skilled Trades event.

The event, at BC3@Lawrence Crossing, was put together by Lawrence County School-to-Work Inc.

“We need to think about the next generation,” said Shawn Callahan, the regional manager for PA North for Flynn’s Tire & Auto Service.

High school students from all four grade levels attended the event from Neshannock, Mohawk, Shenango, Union, Laurel, Ellwood City and Wilmington.

School-to-Work Executive Director Lynda Jaworski-Rapone said this event was created to give high school students a chance to learn about different skill trades and the companies that work in them, stating there are shortages for workers.

This event is on top of the virtual tour of the Lawrence County Career and Technical Center fifth graders participate in, and the in-person tour of the center for ninth graders.

Joe Miller, a plant manager for Berner International, described his career, rise through the ranks and different kinds of electrical work the company does on a daily basis.

“It’s a constantly growing experience for me,” Miller said. “I never have the same day over and over again.”

Miller said his company, among other industries, offers “continuous education” and mentorships.

Ed Stevens, the owner of Neshannock-based Stevens Masonry Construction, said whenever someone is working in a skilled-trade job, one of the most important things to have is good communication.

“It’s a very rewarding job. We build something out of nothing,” Stevens said. “It’s a never boring trade.”

He encouraged the students to consider joining any trade. He said the average age of a worker in skilled trade is 55.

“I couldn’t stress how good of a career any of the building trades are for young people,” Stevens said. “Nobody can take a trade away from you.”

Stevens said the key for students getting into trades are honesty, integrity and their work ethic.

He also noted his company offers a co-op program for those who those in school or who turn 18.

Stevens and Marcus McElwain, the Flynn’s store manager in Hermitage, said the company offers to pay for any trainings and certifications, hires people as young as 16, offers job shadowing and has the potential for career advancement.

“It’s nice to have a plan after you leave high school,” Callahan said.

Alvirena-Flores, Deiderich and Jerry Ferilla represented the International Union Painters & Allied Trades (IUPAT).

Ferilla is a service representative, Alvirena-Flores is a field representative and Deiderich is a third-year apprentice for district council 57.

All three spoke about the benefits of working in a skilled trade like painting, as well as the benefits of working in a union, such as the apprenticeship program students can take out of high school, while they are still getting paid for their work.

Ferilla said with any trade, a job will be available anywhere in the country, with Deiderich noting there is no harm if someone works in a trade and feels it is not the career path for them.

“The worst thing is you are going to learn a skill you can have the rest of your life,” Deiderich said.

Brian Shuster, 35 and a maintenance supervisor for ELLWOOD City Forge, has worked for ELLWOOD for 17 years and is now in a supervisor position.

He said students can apply to work for ELLWOOD with no experience and will get training, as long as they’re willing to learn.

While some students didn’t know what their future plans were, some students said they plan to go into a skilled trade, such as being a diesel mechanic or an electrical mechanic.


Trending Video

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.