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Tradesformers transforms the lives of students

THURS. | 12-8-22 | FEATURES

     Many students in high school may want to discover higher-level careers earlier than later, instead of having to work a fast-food or retail job in place of what they desire. Some have been given the opportunity to begin working in a higher-level career, such as in industry trades.

     Tradesformers is a youth apprenticeship program that is offered at all of the high schools in Pitt County Schools, allowing students to get paid for their work, in addition to course credit. It has been successful in providing students who are interested in trades 


Photo by Shea Jenkins 

with the knowledge, collaboration with local companies, and skills they need to further this type of career.

     “To be able to be in high school and to earn a skill to learn an actual trade, that will transfer into a career, is something that is much bigger,” Career Development Coordinator Cindy Bell said.

     Senior Sara Monterrosa is a student who is currently in the Tradesformers Program and heard about this program through her welding class during junior year. 

     “[The purpose of being in this program is] to be able to push kids farther in life, because you're always going to need trades jobs; they’re just always going to be needed,” Monterrosa said.

“I like doing stuff with my hands, like hands-on work, and we also get paid, so it’s like money during senior year [which] is nice.”

     Students are being given an opportunity to learn from highly skilled trades workers and are being trained so that they will be ready to go into the field. 

     “What we’re finding in the industry is that skilled workers are not readily available,” Bell said. “The industry is changing, people are retiring, they're aging out, so the industry does not have the workers that they need.”

     Senior Isaiah Lopez-Rivera is another student who is currently in the program and hopes to become an electrical engineer. He worked for Pitt Electrics, a local company that collaborates with the Tradesformers Program, during this past summer.

      “I already had some background with electricity with working with my dad, but even with that, there are still some new things that I’ve learned,” Lopez-Rivera said. “I’ve learned some more about electricity and the processes we take in preparing devices ready to be used.”

     Not only does this program serve knowledge for students, but they give students the ability to continue working with the companies after they graduate. 

     “Although you technically won’t be continuing with the program once you graduate, you can still keep working with the same company,” Lopez-Rivera said. “I actually want to hopefully stick with them long enough to learn and get enough hours to get my electrical license, and then go for electrical engineering.”

Monterrosa is currently employed at Pitt County Schools Facility Services through the program and manages to balance work and school.

     “I work from eight to twelve-thirty with a thirty-minute lunch break in between, and then I come back to school for my third and fourth period,” Monterrosa said.

     It can be nerve-wracking for young students to work in environments with highly experienced employees, but Monterrosa feels the program has pushed her to open up more.

     “When I started, I didn’t like talking to my co-workers a lot because they are all a lot older, and I’m a high schooler,” Monterrosa said. “I’ve gotten a lot comfortable with them and they have taught me a lot.”

     Lopez-Rivera recommends this program to others if they are interested in going into the industry trades.

     “Some people aren’t willing to learn, and others think that work like this doesn’t actually take education,” Lopez-Rivera said. “Like for electricity, we need to know quite a few equations to figure out what breaker would be the right one, because otherwise you could burn the wire or it just wouldn’t work out.”

     Students who are currently in this program have already begun to benefit greatly from the program's opportunities, which have given them a new perspective on trades.

      “I believe it already has and will help continue to help me by exposing me to different things,” Lopez-Rivera said. “If I was still working with my dad, it would be mostly residential, and here I’m getting exposed to more commercial work, which gives me a better view of the whole trade.” 

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