FRANKLIN — The skyrocketing cost of a four-year college degree has many students looking at alternatives. One increasingly popular option is trade schools. It's now a major emphasis at Franklin High School, with companies mentoring and recruiting right out of their classrooms.
Students in Franklin are introduced to the trade industry before they enter high school. If that's the career path they choose to take, some graduate with apprenticeships leading to jobs that pay upward of $80,000 a year.
Inside a Franklin High School metals class, headgear is on and sparks fly as students learn the trade industry by using high-precision machines. It's something senior David Van Ert never even considered as a career path just a few years ago.
"My main thought throughout most of high school was actually what college I'm going to go to," he said.
That all changed when Van Ert signed up for a few classes to learn the basics about machining and welding.
"I was kind of hooked right away," he said. "I really liked working with my hands being able to build a product."
Franklin High School has one of the biggest trade and technology programs in the state with more than 600 students involved. That's almost half of the student body. Franklin-based manufacturing company Krones Inc. took notice and put one of its employees in the classroom to mentor and recruit.
"I think there's some misconceptions about what manufacturing careers look like," said Tom Schulz, Krones' vice president of manufacturing.
The extra experience in the classroom is a big help for manufacturing technology instructor Noel Bisog.
"I was kind of hooked right away. I really liked working with my hands being able to build a product." — Franklin senior David Van Ert
"It can go so much deeper than what a secondary instructor can provide," she said.
When Van Ert graduates at the end of the month, he's already landed a three-year apprenticeship program in machining with a salary of $60,000 to $80,000 to look forward to.