Where youths can wade into the trades

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

Many students today spend hours in front of a computer while laying the foundation for high-tech careers.

And vocational education these days tilts toward high tech. A recent Department of Education study showed the percentage of vocation students enrolled in trades courses dropped from 15 percent in 1982 to 8.5 percent in 1994, before edging back up to 9.8 percent in 1998.

But some training programs across the country still aim to prepare young people for jobs in the construction trades. Sponsored by both the public and private sectors, these hands-on learning opportunities allow students to build their skills, and their futures, from the ground up.

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The following offer information and opportunities to take part in programs:

The National Center for Construction Education and Research was formed in 1995 to address the shortage of skilled workers. The organization, made up of construction companies and associations, offers detailed information on all the trades and provides a list of training programs in each state. Call (352)-334-0920 or visit www.nccer.org.

YouthBuild programs nationwide offer job training, education, and counseling to young adults (ages 16 to 24) through the construction of affordable housing. Call (617)-623-9900 or visit www.youthbuild.org.

Habitat for Humanity International volunteers have built more than 95,000 homes since 1976. Call 800-422-4828 or visit www.habitat.org.

AmeriCorps engages more than 40,000 individuals in a variety of community-service projects, including building. Call 800-942-2677 or visit www.americorps.org.

The Home Depot stores offer free do-it-yourself clinics and classes. Call 800-430-3376 or visit www.thehomedepot.com.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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