High school hosts ‘Heavy Equipment Rodeo’ to inspire future trade workers

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Students in New Mexico saddled up Friday for a different kind of rodeo.

“Like a rodeo, people get in and do the work. So, we get an opportunity for ACE leadership students, as well as students throughout the state, to get into the heavy equipment and see what the reality is,” said Justin Trager the executive director at ACE Leadership High School.

Nearly 800 students visited ACE Leadership High School in Albuquerque to learn the ropes of the growing trades workforce.

“I want to be an electrician. I’m also getting really good at welding,” student Viviana Parra said.

No ropes and reins at this rodeo. There were VR headset simulators, including one training people how to weld.

“It’s pretty cool. It gives you a little taste of how real life is. It lets you experience it,” student Javier Ornelas said.

Instead of bull riding, kids buckled up inside different types of heavy equipment to get a taste of what it’s like to be an operator.

“Our hope is that it really gets them more curious and really consider new options for their future,” Trager said.

Trade workers are bucking the trend of getting a 4-year degree.

Last year, enrollment in construction trade programs spiked by 7%. For auto mechanics and repair, it was up 5%.

“The skilled trade industries invest in young people. You don’t have to go get a degree. You can go straight into an apprenticeship program, get work, get paid,” Trager explained.

Then, turn your skills into a lasting career.