Over the last decade, we have seen a stark decline in the number of skilled laborers. With the majority of these workers retiring, there is an urgent need to fill the gap. Not only do these shortages cause project delays on a regular basis, but often leave a critical gap in moments of need such as pandemics and natural disasters. After a winter storm devastated Texas, many citizens were left with burst pipes for days because there were simply not enough plumbers. It was such a dire situation that the government waived restrictions for advanced plumbing apprentices so they could work in the field without oversight from a licensed professional.
The Associated General Contractors of America sees investing in skilled trade programs as crucial for addressing the shortage of qualified workers. "The federal government only spends $1 on career training for every $6 it puts into college prep," says Steve Sandherr, the group's CEO. "This funding gap for career training is one of the main reasons so many contractors have a low opinion of the current pipeline for preparing new craft and construction professionals."
Improving enrollment in trade schools and career education programs has never been more important. Schools can streamline processes to get more students in the door and create comprehensive outreach programs. Here are three ways to improve enrollment in trade and technical schools in the short- and long-term.
To get students involved, it is important to put the opportunities at the forefront of the conversation. Students know of electricians, construction workers, and welders, but they’re unaware of the earning potential and availability of jobs within the trades. Most people are often presented with a college application as their only choice to pursue a career.
Start by increasing your school’s presence. Attending college and job fairs or sponsoring local community events, are great ways to educate potential applicants on the opportunities available Invite surrounding high schools to visit your academy and share insights into the trades. Western Welding Academy came up with the great idea to rent a tour bus to travel to schools around the country and connect directly with interested students. It is important to build relationships with potential applicants and the community.
It is important for trade schools to establish their brand as credible and experts in their trade. Creating cohesive and instructive material is necessary when making first contact with potential applicants. From your flyers to your website, there should be clear branding and purpose. Make sure your information is clear and concise. Put yourself in the shoes of a potential student, would you fully understand the program and have the answers to potential questions readily available?
Build your website for SEO (search engine optimization) to show up at the top of searches. This is big for virtual schools as the results are greater than local schools. Publish blogs, videos, or social posts that are relevant to prospective students. Hold webinars that build authoritative content and introduce students to your trade. Grow anticipation by broadcasting on your social media and email marketing. Show prospective students the school and different tasks within the program, and answer their questions.
Conventional ways of marketing such as newspaper ads or printed flyers are unsuitable for modern trade schools. Current technology allows businesses to save thousands and know exactly how many of their target customers they’ve reached. You know exactly where your money is going with digital marketing. So take advantage of social media and create email automation that helps you maximize your reach.
Use your educational material and tips from teachers at your schools on social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. It not only builds your school’s popularity, but it also increases awareness of the trades. If you have a dedicated marketing team, you can even develop a youtube channel that brings support to your trade’s community. Often, school owners dismiss LinkedIn as a valuable marketing platform, but it is a platform with 850 million individuals looking for professional networks and job opportunities.
Leverage the emails in your database by creating mailing lists aiming to nurture leads and educate current students. Share success stories from alums, school wins, course developments, or available tuition assistance. There are many mailing platforms that will automate this process for you, making it one of the simplest marketing strategies!
There are so many marketing strategies to choose from, but make sure to track all of these with numerical values. Constantly review social platform numbers and email leads that convert into applicants. The more data, the easier it will be to pinpoint successful strategies. Start with brand development, digital marketing, and outreach as a strong foundation and build upon that. Mia Share offers partners marketing assistance and insights to help increase applicants, reach out to the partnership team to learn more about this opportunity!