How Crucial Is Training Beyond High School?

A Stronger Nation

According to A Stronger Nation, a report from Lumina Foundation, by the year 2025, 60 percent of Americans will need some type of high-quality credential (degree, training or certification) beyond high school to find their place in the workforce.

Idaho’s attainment rate is currently 41 percent, and the state is working toward that 60 percent goal. But the report also shows disparity between Idaho counties, which makes the promotion of technical skills training and apprenticeship programs in rural areas even more critical.

Congratulations to Auto Tech Paul Danenberg


Auto technician Paul Danenberg, who was featured last December in an American Graduate: Getting to Work video, will represent the United States in Automobile Technology at the biennial WorldSkills Competition in Kazan, Russia. Danenberg will compete as a member of the WorldSkills USA team, selected and trained by SkillsUSA. The 45th international event will be held Aug. 22-27, 2019.

Danenberg looks forward to competing in Kazan. “Seeing all of the different cars that aren’t available in America — and being able to work on them — is going to be a valuable experience that I will never forget,” he says.

When asked what he most enjoys about his skill, Danenberg says, “You can see any combination of weird issues: a vacuum leak causing a fuel rail pressure sensor code on a VW; a jumped timing chain causing a low fuel rail pressure on a GM; or a ground that has high resistance causing all kinds of electrical problems from voltage feedback. The work is very rewarding.”

After the WorldSkills competition, Danenberg hopes to become a field service engineer, traveling across the country to diagnose and repair issues that nobody else can fix. “It sounds like a great opportunity to travel and perform my favorite part about my job. Eventually, I would also like to give back to my community and become an automotive teacher for a post secondary program.”

Every two years, WorldSkills hosts the world championships of skills, which attracts more than 1,600 competitors from more than 76 countries and regions around the world to compete in more than 50 different trade skills. Considered the best in the world in each trade skill, contestants compete before the public for four days in contests that are run and judged by industry using demanding international standards. They represent the best students from each nation and many are highly trained by their sponsoring country.

There are 22 members on the WorldSkills USA Team, with an average age of 19. Other occupational areas in which the United States plans to compete include Aircraft Maintenance, Autobody Repair, Bakery, Bricklaying, Cabinetmaking, Car Painting, CNC Milling, Cooking, Cyber Security, Graphic Design, Hairdressing, Heavy Vehicle Maintenance, Mechanical Engineering CAD, Mechatronics, Plumbing and Heating, Print Media, Restaurant Service, Web Technologies and Welding.

Hundreds of thousands of spectators, public policymakers, employers, teachers, trainers, technical experts and government officials from around the world will attend this competition. The event will be held at the Kazan Expo International Exhibition Centre.

“Mom, Dad … I Want to Be a Tradie.”

The word might be different (in New Zealand, a tradesperson is a “tradie”), but the struggle is familiar.

This ad (or “advert” to New Zealanders) from the Building and Construction Industry Training Organization (BCITO) puts a humorous spin on the awkward conversations young people have with their parents about career choices. The ad encourages parents to support young people who want to pursue apprenticeships and other technical training.

Clark Fork Builds Community by Training Students for Technical Jobs

American Graduate: Getting to Work is exploring Idaho to showcase career and technical education opportunities that provide skills for in-demand trades.

At Clark Fork Jr./Sr. High School in North Idaho, learning the basics of skilled jobs is as vital a part of student development as are science, technology, English and math. Marty Jones, career-technical education (CTE) instructor, shares his passion for hands-on trades and “making things almost out of nothing” with his students.

Jones’ students are encouraged to create things on their own, using the school’s shop facilities to build, test, break and improve their prototypes. They get the opportunity to work with metal, machine tools, electronics, robotics and coding.

The school’s Independent Track Program lets students learn a trade through local business partnerships. Not only does this connect students with potential employers in their community — which could help Clark Fork retain local talent — it also helps students understand the value and real-world application of the math, writing and science skills their learning in school. The program has been so successful that 95 percent of the school’s seniors who have job-shadowed have been offered a job.

Check out the grin on sophomore Dante Kemink’s face when he shows off the unusual exhaust tip he fabricated with Mr. Jones’ help. Jones encourages his CTE students to imagine an object they have an interest in creating, and then helps them create a prototype in cardboard. The students must also form a “company” and figure out how to sell their product at a profit.

Idaho Student on a ‘Collision Course’ with Auto Body Repair Careers

Idaho’s career and technical schools help students chart their course for the future by providing training for good-paying, high-demand jobs.

At the Dennis Technical Education Center (DTEC) in the Boise School District, American Graduate: Getting to Work meets Kuna High School senior Samantha Spencer, whose passion, drive and curiosity have set her on a “collision course” with a career in auto body repair.

Samantha enrolled in DTEC’s collision repair program with no experience but with a passion for cars and fixing things. The program taught her to repair dents and other automotive body damage by welding, using Bondo filler and resin, learning plastic repair, and applying primer and paint.

DTEC helps students earn certificates through I-CAR, an industry-driven collision repair certification program. Graduates who complete their coursework can leave DTEC with I-CAR Non-Structural and Refinish Technician ProLevel 1 certifications that get the attention of prospective auto body shop employers.

Samantha’s instructors at DTEC point out the high earning potential after just two years in the collision repair field. And because women have a superior eye for color and attention to detail, their contributions are needed in a field that has a lot to do with precision, color and design.

In the second part of the video, watch as Samantha reveals her pet project: the restoration of her personal car, a 2004 Ford Mustang that will eventually have a new interior, lots of body work, and a metallic black finish.