What does Skilled Trades Education in U.S. High Schools Look Like Right Now?

Our public opinion polling shows Americans want more funding for high school skilled trades education. Our national landscape study illustrates that high school skilled trades education is not sufficiently prioritized in the United States, in spite of its benefits to learning and careers.

Research Commissioned by Harbor Freight Tools for Schools®

Breaking Ground: A First Look at American High School Skilled Trades Education

Landscape: High-Level Findings

The gaps, bright spots, and significant opportunities to change current practice to better meet the needs of our country, and create opportunity for young Americans. Research conducted by JFF.

  • High-Value Opportunities

Students participating in skilled trades classes gain not only valuable technical skills and work experience but also the academic and personal skills needed to be successful in whatever path they choose after high school.

  • Low Priority

Skilled trades education sits within state CTE systems that are fragmented, too often fail to prioritize the skilled trades and lack sufficient resources at the state and classroom level.

  • More Students Need Access

The challenge is to move from a field decorated with patches of excellence to one in which students in every state across our country have full access to well-funded and well-equipped programs, taught by outstanding educators.

  • No Clear Data

The stark reality of our research revealed there is simply no clear and comprehensive national data on high school skilled trades education. Many state education departments do not reliably collect basic information that could tell students, staff, parents, employers and policymakers how many young people enroll in and complete skilled trades programs in high school.

What Americans Want from High School Skilled Trades Education

Public Opinion: High Level Findings

Voters, parents, and high school students share a remarkably positive view of skilled trades classes and support greater investment in these courses. Polling by NORC at the University of Chicago.

  • Increased Funding

8 in 10 voters favor increased public funding for skilled trades education and think trades should be a priority in high school.

  • Parents Want More Opportunities

8 in 10 parents say their children would be better prepared for a career if there were more chances to study skilled trades in high school.

  • Student Opinion

Students in high schools that offer skilled trade courses are more likely to say skilled trades jobs are important, creative and respected.