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Meet the young people who are making it on the Treasure Coast

Welding is one of the hottest job opportunities right now on the Treasure Coast.
Welding is one of the hottest job opportunities right now on the Treasure Coast.
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Today's kids are finding that making stuff with their hands is fun, and they are reaping the rewards.

The rise in "maker culture" is evidence that people of all walks of life, education, and backgrounds universally enjoy making things. Whether it is virtual, using a computer program, or making something physical in the real world, there is a pride in creation that is hard to explain. It is very rewarding to make something, stand back, and say "I made that."

Recent trends in education, such as STEAM, are preparing kids for the future economy. STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) occupations are projected to grow over two times faster than the total for all occupations in the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The thinking here is that STEAM education challenges students to think critically and come up with their own solutions. Many projects are hands-on and involve more teamwork than traditional classwork, which imitates real life in the work world. For this reason, many people believe that students who receive a quality STEAM education are primed to become the next generation of innovators.

Some people bristle at the idea of being stuck behind a desk or sitting in front of a computer screen all day. Kids who are showing signs of "checking out" of traditional school by eighth or ninth grade may be great candidates for an alternative style of learning, one using their hands, working in teams, and thinking creatively to solve problems. This could put them on track for a high-demand career in manufacturing and skilled trades.

Meet Casey!

Casey started welding when she was 16 years old. She recalls walking around the back of the shop at Project LIFT in Palm City, seeing the students welding, and saying, "I want to do that!" Casey wasn't sure what she wanted to do for a career, but she graduated from the Project LIFT program, went through the IRSC Welding Program, and got her certifications. Today she works for a local boat company, welding aluminum TIG. Casey advises, "I would definitely recommend welding, or any type of trade really. It's a really satisfying feeling, seeing everything coming together perfectly and building this beautiful part."

The Perception Problem:

Less than three in 10 Americans surveyed would encourage their children to pursue a manufacturing career, according to a study by Deloitte for the Manufacturing Institute.

"There's a perception challenge when it comes to manufacturing careers. Teachers, guidance counselors and parents don't think of manufacturing when advising students on their possible career choices. It is not always seen as a lucrative career or exciting career," says Lizabeth Stuck, at MxD Learn, a public–private innovation center that forms partnerships between government, academia and industry.

However, there is a large gap between the perception and the reality of today's in-demand jobs.

The fact is that jobs in manufacturing and skilled trades come with great benefits and pay well. The work is interesting and rewarding, and it's for everyone who is inspired to build and create things, not just men.

"If your kids are considering a career in manufacturing and skilled trades, you should be open-minded and let them explore it," says Brian Bauer, president of CareerSource Research Coast. "They can often go into the workforce immediately with the unique skills they've learned."

Meet Victoria!

Victoria is 23 and recently got into trucking. She likes that she was able to get into her career fast. Her employer, Armellini in Palm City, reimbursed her fully for her tuition, allowing her to get on the road and start earning quickly.

"If you're 18 and you aren't sure what you want to do, you can go into trucking, or a field like trucking, make a great income, and start your career young," Victoria says. "You only have to go to school for a few months! I see the most amazing places and get paid to do it."

Some of the hottest jobs in the Treasure Coast right now are:

  • Welders and fabricators
  • Diesel mechanics for the marine and automotive industry
  • HVAC technicians
  • CNC operators
  • Fiberglass and sheet metal workers
  • CDL drivers and freight handlers
  • All aspects of construction, including home building and home renovation

Jobs in these industries are stable and secure, and employers need skilled workers to fill these positions!

In the Treasure Coast, there are fantastic opportunities in the industries of aviation, marine, automotive, manufacturing, construction, and logistics!

What about education?

While some jobs like welders and electricians require specialized training, many employers will hire someone for a non-skilled position and train them for more specialized jobs while they work. New hires can earn while they learn, and they often can advance quickly.

Some employers in the Treasure Coast area offer apprenticeships during which they can get paid while they build their skills. Others offer reimbursement for tuition and exam fees as they pursue the certifications their field requires.

One of the most attractive aspects of manufacturing and skilled trades jobs is that most do not require four years of college to get started. A student right out of high school can start earning money without accumulating student debt. College can still be an option down the road, as many employers offer tuition reimbursement plans, allowing them to get a degree while they work.

Explore career planning with an open mind

Career Planners at CareerSource Research Coast can help young people navigate the career planning process. They also offer workshops and training opportunities in the Treasure Coast. These services are provided at no cost to residents, and you can reach them by phone to get started at (866) 482-4473.

Indian River State College offers a variety of training and degree programs to get the skills to land a job in these high demand fields. They offer degrees in construction, automotive service, or air conditioning, refrigeration, and heating technology. There are training programs for aviation, carpentry, welding, and commercial driving, or apprenticeships in electrical and plumbing trades.

Martin County residents can earn while they learn through Trial Employment Opportunities offered by Career Connect Martin. Participants can learn new skills in construction trades, marine, aerospace, automotive, transportation, and more. Career Connect Martin removes barriers such as childcare and transportation expenses while coaching participants for success. Contact or call (772) 287-1088 x103 to learn more about these opportunities.

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Check out to watch videos of young people who are "making it" on the Treasure Coast. They are making things work, making them move, and making their careers happen in the high-demand fields of manufacturing and the skilled trades. You can also check out some of the companies in the Treasure Coast who are making everything from airplanes to submarines to homes.