By Viktoria Hansen
When you were a child, how often did people ask what you wanted to be when you grew up? Chances are, you changed your mind a few times before graduating from high school. After graduation, it was assumed a student would pursue a traditional degree at a four-year college or university. But a traditional degree isn’t necessarily a good fit for every student. Others may discover they have an aptitude for the trades.
There is good news for those students who want to learn a trade. The demand for skilled tradespeople is soaring. From welders to paralegals, cosmetologists to medical coders, shortages are expected in the future. Opportunities abound for students who decide to pursue an education in the trades. Current and future demand for skilled tradespeople is such that most graduates secure well-paying jobs immediately after graduation. After working in their chosen fields for a number of years, they may even decide to start their own companies.
The Walton Republican Women Federated (WRWF) recognizes the importance of women learning a trade. To that end, the WRWF is offering continuing education grants to women of any age who want to pursue certification in a trade. To be eligible, the applicant must be a Walton County resident with a high school diploma or GED. There are no restrictions in the courses of study women may pursue. “Jobs in the trades are the jobs of the future,” said Margaret Crozier, grant committee chair. “We want women to know that it’s never too late to go back to school and achieve their goals.”
The WRWF is working with Emerald Coast Technical College and Northwest Florida State College, accredited schools offering a wide range of programs that could lead to certification in less than two years. Most programs range from six to 22 months, depending on the course of study, and many include apprenticeships. Programs are available in such broad fields as medical, building and construction, computer (including cyber security) law enforcement, and cosmetology, to name just a few.
Recipients of the 2018 Grants were Myrna Boyer of DeFuniak Springs, and Ashley Cathey of Freeport. Boyer, age 57, is pursuing computer systems and IT. “This grant is a very big thing for me,” she said. Myrna explains that she experienced many setbacks as a single mom raising four kids. “I wanted to get them through school before I could focus on myself; now I could do that.”
Cathey said she had always been interested in Cosmetology. She too, was a single mother, raising three children while juggling a number of jobs at one time. “I wanted to pursue Cosmetology, but I was definitely struggling,” she said. At age 38, she returned to school and will graduate in June. “I have a job waiting for me, she said. “I was so grateful for the grant.”
Do you know Walton County women who are interested in pursuing certification in a trade? The deadline for applications is Sept. 30. Recipients will be chosen in October. For more information, please call Margaret Crozier at 850) 585-4859.