In a revealing segment on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends,” Mike Rowe, the CEO of mikeroweWORKS and host of “How America Works” on Fox Business, discussed a significant shift among Generation Z: a growing preference for trade schools over traditional four-year colleges. Joined by host Lawrence Jones, Rowe delved into the benefits of trade education and why it’s becoming an increasingly attractive option for young Americans.

The Appeal of Trade Schools

The Appeal of Trade Schools
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Rowe highlighted the success of Williamson College of the Trades, which boasts a 98% job placement rate with zero tuition costs for students. This model, according to Rowe, is setting a new standard in education by offering high job security and no student loan debt. He compared it to the College of the Ozarks, where students work 15 hours a week while earning their degrees, graduating with valuable skills and no debt.

Financial Realities and Job Security

Financial Realities and Job Security
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Lawrence Jones noted that the trades offer real financial benefits, often surpassing those of traditional white-collar jobs. Rowe agreed, pointing out that many young people are starting to realize the financial burden of college debt and the relatively low starting salaries in many fields.

Doing the Math

Doing the Math
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“You can watch this generation do the math. They’re thinking, ‘I’m going to graduate with $160,000 in debt, and if I’m lucky, I’ll make $40,000 a year in my chosen field.’ It just doesn’t add up,” Rowe explained. In contrast, trades like welding, steam fitting, and electrical work offer lucrative career paths with substantial earning potential and high demand.

Changing Perceptions

Changing Perceptions
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Rowe emphasized the need to change the stigmas and stereotypes associated with trade jobs. He argued that the narrative is shifting as more people recognize the value and security that these careers offer. “This is turning a tanker around, so it takes time, but it’s turning,” he said.

Celebrating Trade Jobs

Celebrating Trade Jobs
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Rowe also mentioned his new film, “Something to Stand For,” which aims to celebrate the contributions of ordinary Americans and promote a sense of patriotism and appreciation for the country’s workforce. The film, he hopes, will help to further shift public perception about the value of trade jobs and the importance of reconnecting with America’s history and core values.

A Pragmatic Shift

A Pragmatic Shift
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The shift towards trade schools among Gen Z reflects a broader pragmatism in the face of economic realities. As college costs continue to rise and the job market becomes more competitive, young people are seeking practical and financially sound alternatives. Trade schools offer not only a way to avoid crippling debt but also a direct path to stable and well-paying jobs.

Challenging Assumptions

Challenging Assumptions
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Moreover, this trend challenges long-held assumptions about the necessity of a four-year degree for success. It underscores the importance of re-evaluating educational priorities and recognizing the diverse pathways to a fulfilling and prosperous career.

“No Debt and We Love What We Do”

No Debt and We Love What We Do
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People in the comments shared their thoughts and experiences: “I went to trade school and became a cabinet maker, and my son went and is now a mechanic. No debt, and we love  what we do”

Another commenter said: “Gen X started getting smart and doing it before all of this nonsense. We can see that government has been dumb af for decades.”

One person concluded: “A lot are ditching work all together cause mummy and daddy want to be their kids friend instead of being the parent.”

Encouraging Trend

Encouraging Trend
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Mike Rowe’s insights highlight a significant and encouraging trend among Gen Z. By choosing trade schools over traditional colleges, young Americans are prioritizing financial stability and practical skills. This shift not only benefits them personally but also addresses broader economic needs by filling critical roles in the workforce.

Long-term Economic Impacts

Long term Economic Impacts
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What do you think?  What are the long-term economic impacts of more young people choosing trade schools over traditional four-year colleges? How can educational institutions and policymakers support and expand trade programs to meet growing demand? What can be done to further reduce the stigma associated with trade jobs and promote them as viable career paths?

See the full video on Fox News’ YouTube channel for more details here.