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Students learn they can have great careers without college

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Source: WFAA 8

Students often hear about the necessity of going to college. But Wednesday, a large group of DFW area students heard an alternative message – you don't need to go to college to get a great career.

They filed into a cavernous warehouse where hundreds of skilled laborers of all sorts hammered and welded and sawed. It was a demonstration, but those workers were essentially building a great big "We are hiring" sign.

"This event is great for kids like me and many others who just want to start working right out of high school," said Birdville High School student Stephen George, who is interested in being an electrician. "I like electrical because you have to use your brains for it."

George was one of 1,300 students from 40 area schools being recruited at what is billed as the nation's largest construction and maintenance career fair.

"They need kids like us," George said. And he's right.

During the Great Recession, when there wasn't much work in the construction industry, there was a great exodus of blue collar workers like welders, plumbers, drywall hangers and the like. Now, the economy is back, but there is still a shortage, according to Marek Brothers President John Hinson, Jr.

"All those people are not there anymore and we have to train people and there is a shortage of them," he said. "We need tradespeople, craftsmen; we need artists that build things."

Hinson added that the shortage of different skilled laborers is so severe that many new developments are stalling. "It's happening at every job we have going right now," he said. Further, he said the industry expects to be short half a million such laborers in the Southwest alone by the year 2020.

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