Hands-on learn⁠i⁠ng: Blue Collar Tour v⁠i⁠s⁠i⁠⁠t⁠s s⁠t⁠uden⁠t⁠s ⁠i⁠n Charles⁠t⁠on 

February 27, 2024

Bryce Fiedler

CALN Founding Member & CALN Board of Directors Secretary

Persons Wearing Protective Gears Using Tools in a Workshop

Charleston students recently got to learn about and get hands-on experience with different trade skills as part of a blue-collar jobs campaign for high schoolers.  

The Blue Collar Tour—which is visiting 30 schools across the U.S. this semester—selected the Charleston County School District (CCSD) for a mid-February stop, according to WCSC (Live5News), much to the excitement of Lowcountry students.  

The trade skills on display included welding, plumbing and automotive repair, all of which offer strong career opportunities. The tour stops last about 4–6 hours and feature tool giveaways, in addition to hands-on demonstrations.  

Where was this held, you might ask? At the recently built West Ashley Center for Advanced Studies.

According to the CCSD website, the West Ashley Center for Advanced Studies is a leading-edge facility within the West Ashley High School Campus that offers students from neighboring high schools the chance to do coursework in numerous college and career pathways.  

It is great to see a spotlight on blue-collar work, which can sometimes be overshadowed by flashier career paths. And moreover, these important jobs aren’t going anywhere. WCSC reports:  

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says overall employment in blue-collar work is expected to grow just as fast as the average for all occupations between now and 2032. Over 600,000 openings are expected on average each year for blue-collar jobs because of employment growth and the need to replace workers who leave the line of work permanently.  

WCSC highlighted two high school seniors, Crawford Helms and Aiden Jones, who have been welding through a program offered by West Ashley since their sophomore year. “I’m definitely learning a lot more. It’s a big deal that we got chosen for them to come here. And they’re saying that we’re the best high school so far, and the best one they’ve ever seen,” Helms told the news channel.