Graduation Date

Fall 2023

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Education

Committee Chair Name

James Wolgom

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Tristan Gleason

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories



My research is qualitative on a small group of my students who register for my auto shop every year. These students don't all want to become auto mechanics but like working with their hands and are interested in going into the trades. Because of this I noticed a need to these students who are not going to college. I found another high school that is currently operating an internal Work-Based Learning program. A WBL program is set up for students to go to during the last two periods of the day and shadow a tradesperson on the job. This gives the student an opportunity to see if they may want to continue into an apprenticeship within this trade or possibly another one.

The WBL program was inspired by my disability and the fact that a lot of students are not college-bound but are still very smart and capable of a career that provides a living for them. Industrial sectors in the United States have experienced and reported a shortage when it comes to workers needed in all areas of skilled trades (WrenchWay, 2022).

There’s a shortage when it comes to workers needed in the skilled trades because of the push for students to attend a four-year college versus a trade school or apprenticeship (WrenchWay, 2022). This results in a great need for individuals to go into the trades and work right away (WrenchWay, 2022). Though emphasis has been placed on college preparation, not everyone is college bound and there are many other opportunities, and the issue is providing those opportunities and training to students when they are in high school. One potential outcome of these sorts of trade-centric education programs is to introduce these trades to students and show them pathways to training within the trades to obtain a career versus a minimum-wage job (Glosenberg et al, 2019; Roller et al, 2020).

I have had personal experience with this trade-centric education programs, and it affected the course of my life significantly in the late 80s as a high school graduate in St. Louis, Missouri. At that time my dad would not leave me alone about going to college to make a good living, versus pursuing a trade career. Just so you know my background, I was never good at school and struggled because of LD, ADD, and dyslexia. So, the daunting task of going to and taking on college was overwhelming, to say the least.

Despite those challenges, I went to college and studied fine art and graphic design. After I graduated, I worked for a while and then moved to Los Angeles, California to pursue a bachelor’s in graphic design from the Art Center. Then I returned to St. Louis, worked in Graphic Design and after a couple of years I moved back to LA. At that point, the recession was beginning, and I ended up losing everything. What better time to pursue a new career?

So, I started off taking night classes in automotive, welding, and auto body. During my time taking classes, I started a job welding hot rod parts and then went to work at a car restoration shop. Next, I worked at a car museum and began teaching auto shop at Alex Xydias School for Automotive Arts. Having discovered a love for and interest in teaching, I accepted the job I have now as a full-time auto shop teacher at Bonita High School. I am finally doing what I wish I had done all along but much later in life. These personal experiences inform the research project I describe below, which aims to assist students in discovering job opportunities in the trades because they may not be college-bound.

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