Rep. LaHood sees first-hand Pekin High School students learning a trade

PCHS Dragons following trend of going into the trades
Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 6:23 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PEORIA (25News Now) - More high school students are choosing a trade, seeing it as the quickest way to begin earning money.

25News first mentioned this autonomy in learning at the East Peoria Community High School’s inaugural career day earlier this month.

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Dunlap) said Congress is working to continue funding the Perkins Loan which can be used for associate degrees and with more students in Pekin choosing to specialize in studying a trade.

Rep. LaHood toured PHS Monday morning and he said it will help him understand the growth in enrollment in the 60 different career and technical programs.

PCHS Superintendent Dr. Danielle Owens says more Pekin Dragons are choosing to take one of the 60 available electives, in areas ranging from welding to automotive, culinary, childcare, and more.

She says of the 1,700 students at Pekin High, about 1,300 to 1,400 students are now enrolled in at least one of these electives with a good majority choosing to continue their education at Illinois Central College.

”There’s a huge interest in classes that they see relevance in. It’s something exciting that they get to do something with their hands. I think that’s enticing to see they can walk out of high school and see and have a living wage without incurring debt. I think that’s enticing.” explained Dr. Owens.

Currently in Illinois, the average skilled trade earning is $25/hour or on average $53,000/year.

Rep. LaHood says this tour helps him understand how he can help from the federal standpoint.

”Being here today to learn a little bit more about how the federal government can help and assist through the Perkins loan grants which is a big part of that. That’s really an example of what I think is going to be beneficial as we continue to expand and grow programs like the one we have in Pekin.” LaHood continues, “that can help the employers we need in the area, whether that’s at Caterpillar or in other manufacturing facilities in our area.”

While 25News’ Brett Brooks was at the school, the students were building a dollhouse for one of the students.

The students were also changing the brakes on of their teacher’s cars and learning about transmissions.

According to Indeed, in the first year on average, automotive technicians make an average $52,000 dollars a year.