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More students standing in graduation lines as crucial trade jobs go unfilled

Posted at 10:19 PM, May 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-24 06:54:07-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla., - Think you have to go to college to make a lot of money? Think again.

Expert say trade schools or starting your own business may be the way to go if you don’t want to shell out tens of thousands of dollars on a bachelors degree.

“I had no idea what I wanted to do,” said Bailey Peer, 20, a Fort Myers resident and owner of Peer Landscaping.

After graduating from Fort Myers High School, Peer attended FSW for a short time as a business major. But he didn’t stay there long.

After a year, he decided to pursue his dream of owning a business and started Peer Landscaping, a full service landscaping company.

“I really felt like my time could be spent better off somewhere else,” said Peer. 

So with just a couple hundred dollars, Peer invested in his initial tools.

He says he learned everything from YouTube and his mentor Peter Reviera of Gaea Landscaping.

8 months later, he’s had great success.

“Never did i think in 8 months I would have 35k in equipment and debt free.”

And free of student loan debt too. Peer says he now pays one full time and four part time employees to take care of his more than 50 clients.

And while Peer says he didn’t see himself pursuing a trade and business at an age where many of his friends are in college, experts warn there may not be enough people like Peer pursuing trade jobs to fill the demand.

“I think a lot of it starts in school. I have kids in high school and everything in high school is academic driven,” said Bill McGraff, a co-owner of Medical Career Institute.

 “Where you’re going to college. What you’re going to pursue in college?” These are the common questions McGraff says high schoolers are presented with and that’s why they may overlook skilled trade jobs as an electrician, carpenter or firefighter for example.

Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce says good trade jobs have a median salary of $55,000.

With steep costs of a traditional 4 year degree, McGraff says before committing to college, students should make sure the cost is worth the career.

“Its an awful lot of money to pay for certain jobs. You get a hundred thousand dollar education then go get a 50 thousand dollar job, it’s pretty tough to validate,” said McGraff.

“If you’re not sure what you want to do, I wouldn’t recommend spending a hundred thousand dollars to go figure it out.”

Georgetown Center estimates there are currently 30 million jobs for people without a bachelors.

However, if you want a bachelors, it’s going to cost you. The average college graduate for the class of 2017 is expected to have more than $38,000 in student loan debt. 

But while the debt can be daunting, researchers say ‘Education matters and more and more good jobs are going to people with a bachelors degree.’

“I encourage people to do something that they’re passionate for,” said Peer.