According to Indiana College Readiness Reports, in 2016, 64 percent of over 72 thousand high school graduates enrolled in college. While this figure may be a place of worry for some educators, many high school students during their high school careers find out that traditional post-secondary education is not what they want to do after high school.
The Walker Career Center (WCC) located inside Warren Central High School provides many different pathways that could end up being college alternatives for students who take the classes offered. These advanced, hands-on classes train students for life after graduation as well as the professionalism that will be needed in their respective industries. In addition to this training, students can also receive dual credit through colleges such as Ivy Tech and Vincennes University.
The WCC offers a variety of programs to those who are enrolled including Architecture and Construction, Automotive, Electronics and Computer Technology, Culinary and Hospitality, Education, Engineering, Finance, Health Careers, Photography and Welding. Certifications can begin to be earned or even completed through Cosmetology, Computer Networking, Automotive Service Technology, Constructional Trades, Welding with successful completion of the required courses and exams.
Senior Keegan Aksamit is one of the students at Warren Central that plans to take their educational career in a different direction than the 56 percent of graduates who choose to attend a four-year college. As a part of the WCC, Aksamit has gotten introduced to a working environment and has been prepared to enter the workforce with a career. The variety of classes teach students what they need to know for their chosen career and give students a head start with their future. Aksamit plans to do an apprenticeship to become a millwright for a union to work on and repair machines.
“I knew since my sophomore year that college wasn’t for me and that I wanted to work with my hands when I was older, so I started taking different classes in the garage that I was interested in, such as welding, machining, and robotics,” Aksamit said. “For a long while I was considering going to a trade school to get more training in machining, but after a while I realized that what I wanted to do was work on machines because of my experience with robotics.”
Aksamit plans for his apprenticeship to last about five years, which will include basic pay and increases each year until the final year. He will be trained by other journeymen on the job and will also take additional classes that he will split his time between. Aksamit will spend half of his time during the week at work and the other half at school, with 2-3 days each. The more experience he receives through his apprenticeship, the more sophisticated jobs he will be able to do. During the final year, the apprentice will receive their journeyman’s card that proves that they are a member of a union. Being a part of a union has additional benefits such as a union contract, health insurance and a pension, all of which will have benefits now and later in life.
“I’m most excited about the fact that I won’t need to go to a secondary school for the additional training I need for the job and I’ll be paid during it,” Aksamit said. “Also I’ll be able to get a head start on my future career, which not a lot of people are able to do right out of high school.”