Kansas students explore trade careers at interactive showcase

Kansas high school students attended the Build My Future event to learn about trade careers in the construction industry.
Updated: Apr. 27, 2023 at 10:11 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Build My Future is showing Kansas high schoolers that they don’t have to go to college or even leave the state to find meaningful, well-paying work.

Over 500 students and dozens of exhibitors attended the interactive trade show Wednesday. Students spent the day learning about trade careers in the construction industry and meeting with prospective employers. They also enjoyed hands-on experience testing heavy machinery and other equipment they could expect to see on a job site.

“I know for sure I don’t want to go to college so I’m just out here looking around just getting myself ready for adulthood.” said Bonner Springs High School student Landen Hill.

Will Ruder, executive vice president of the home builders association of greater Kansas City, says that the trades are a great way for young people to contribute to their communities while also benefitting themselves.

“This is the first build my future in the state of Kansas, it’s an opportunity for young people to come be exposed to a myriad of different things, opportunities that are available to them in the skilled trades. Building things using their hands in order to add to their communities, to their economies, and as well as their own personal fortunes.”

Moreover, says Ruder, they can increase their earning potential right out of school without shouldering the debt of a college education.

“The return on investment for four year degree is different than what it was historically and so now kids and future generations are looking for opportunities where you don’t have that enormous upfront investment of an education without a guaranteed source of income after the fact.”

The event was hosted by the Topeka Area Building Association and the Home Builders Association of Kansas City.