Destigmatizing careers that don’t require a college degree is key to bridging a growing nationwide skills gap, say some lawmakers, educators and business leaders.
“All work has dignity,” U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi said Monday after visiting South Elgin High School’s automotive, precision manufacturing and early childhood programs. “We cannot stigmatize any career … any pathway into the middle class.”
Krishnamoorthi, State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith and roughly 50 regional education and business leaders toured Elgin Area School District U-46’s career and technical education programs at Elgin and South Elgin high schools.
With 40 students enrolled in South Elgin’s precision manufacturing program, there is room for more students to join from throughout the district, instructor Russ Bartz said.
“We need more people to understand that it’s a good career path and it’s not a dirty job,” he said, adding manufacturing jobs are more high-tech than most people realize.