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Treasure Valley trade schools see increased enrollment amid pandemic

According to some trade schools in Idaho, many people decided trade school was their next best move.

ADA COUNTY, Idaho — During the past 15 months people around the world had time to reflect on things that matter to them, what makes people happy. For many, that meant a change in careers.

According to some trade schools in Idaho, many people decided trade school was their next best move, even during a pandemic.

According to Bill Bosch, an administrator at Northwest Lineman College in Meridian, completion certificates were given at high rates in 2020 and now, during the pandemic.

“What we saw in the industry and what we saw at our school, what we saw across the nation was really inspiring,” he said.

In a news cycle of shortages, NLC saw a 20% increase in student enrollment during the pandemic.

“It’s a stable industry that has a great future but I think there's a shift from basic academia from four- and six-year college experience, and that's fantastic, but I think they are realizing the opportunities form themselves and their families and entering in to a trade path,” he said.

Bosch added that the college is seeing an older generation enroll with interest in becoming line workers.

“It’s just not traditional, majority of students are 18-25 but what we are seeing is established people in the workforce, 30 or40 years old even older we have had some 50-year-old students that are wanting to change their career path,” Bosch said. “In the last couple of year we have seen both the transition to trades and also the pandemic has caused people to evaluate their futures.”

Other trade school with smaller tools, are also busy snipping away.

Paul Mitchell cosmetology schools in Idaho saw a 19% growth in enrollment in 2019, a 2% increase in 2020 and a 3% increase in 2021.

“We had future professionals, that's what we call our students, that had challenges with daycare, or other family challenges related to COVID, so we definitely had that and we call them leaves of absences or it slowed down their education a little bit so absolutely,” said Lou Startia, Dean of several Paul Mitchell locations.

Starita added that even in the height of the pandemic, the dream to pursue a career in the beauty industry was and still is high.

“It might seem odd or strange but people that want to get into this industry love people, and they love what they do,” Starita said. “So that doesn't go away, it might have slowed some down but as far as the demand to go to school, it’s been the same.”

Despite the fact that some salons were forced to close during the pandemic, Starita claimed that wasn’t enough to deter future cosmetologists.

“It’s such a special industry and when you have that calling to do it, it takes a lot to disrupt it,” said Starita.

That, due in part to that fact that many students feel confident that at the end of their trade school journey they won't have a hard time finding employment in their given field.

“There were many salons that had to close and created a pent-up demand for the customers and there are more guests in certain places than they have employees, so they are hiring, hiring, hiring,” said Starita.

“We will make mistakes but we won't fail, we will get these students out to a successful career,” Bosch said.

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