Tech CEO says Gen Zers are pursuing more blue-collar jobs that AI cannot easily take: Report

As the costs and controversies surrounding college education continue to rise, as well as the potential threat AI presents to white-collar jobs, many young people have started looking into trade schools and blue-collar jobs that are not easily replaceable by tech, according to a recent report by Fox News Digital.

Lincoln Tech CEO Scott Shaw told Fox Business’ Stuart Varney on Tuesday that “[t]hese [blue-collar] jobs are here to stay,” adding that “[s]ince COVID, people are kind of catching the wave and understanding the need for trades.”

Shaw went on to explain that there is a serious need for essential workers and that the students at his school were essential over the course of the pandemic.

He noted that the essential workers were “in the hospitals,” “keeping transportation, keeping your Amazon deliveries, getting to you.”

The report added that enrollment in vocational community colleges across the country are up 16 percent since 2018, according to a January 2024 National Student Clearinghouse report.

The report stated:

Undergraduate enrollment grew 1.2 percent (+176,000) in fall 2023, the first increase since the pandemic. Among the three largest sectors, growth was highest at community colleges, which gained 118,000 students (+2.6%) after steep declines during the pandemic. Public and private nonprofit 4-year institutions both saw smaller increases of 0.6 percent (+38,000 and +16,000, respectively). Over two-thirds of states saw undergraduate enrollment growth this fall.

It appears there are more younger people turning to trade and careers that will not break the bank at a four-year college or university.

Shaw also made mention of the demographics of those who have decided to pursue trade careers and enrolling in higher vocational education, saying: “About 20% of our students are right out of high school.”

“About 50% are 21 and younger, but the average age of our students is 25,” he added.

He also said there are those who have decided to ditch the careers they once wanted to pursue, adding that “[w]e have a lot of career changers, people that have tried college, and it just wasn’t right for them or people that now want to follow their passion.”

Ken Coleman — America’s career coach and Ramsey Solutions personality — said trades often provide a faster and less expensive way for young people to start making money.

“We’re seeing that 75% of Gen Z is saying they are interested in being an entrepreneur. They want to work for themselves,” Coleman explained, adding that “trades offer a quicker, cheaper path to being able to work for themselves, create jobs for other people, and plug into—which is the real backbone of our economy—small business.”

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