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Franklin County schools encourage students to learn trades

A group of people in a workshop
Steph Whiteside
Mark Fitch (center) is teaching a construction trades class for high schoolers in Franklin County.

Area educators hope that vocational courses can help keep students interested in school and provide a path to success after graduation.

One Franklin County program invited legislators to visit a class in construction trades. The course had to be paused during the pandemic but has returned this school year. Students from all six high schools in the county are eligible to take the course.

Teacher Mark Fitch said his students are working on learning to frame walls -- and the finished projects will be used in a real construction project.

"This is the real deal for them. And when I started the class I said, boys this is where the buck stops. It's happening here and now," he said.

Fitch said it's critical to get young people interested in trades. When he started, he said, it was hard to find a job. Now, it's hard for employers to find workers.

Steph Whiteside is a Digital Media News Specialist with WSIU radio in Carbondale, Ill. She previously worked as a general reporter at AJ+ and Current TV.
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