Representatives from more than a dozen labor unions spoke to students Thursday at Abraham Lincoln High School about their possible career paths.
The unions, which represented a wide range of jobs, gathered in a school gym for a “Labor Fair,” which was hosted by state Rep. Joe Hohenstein. Lincoln juniors and seniors participated in the event.
“I’ve seen our education system pushing our kids into a particular vision of what it is to be successful,” Hohenstein said. “They’re being told each and every time that if you don’t go to college, then you’re never going to be successful.”
Entering a trade is a way for young people to get higher-paying jobs without taking on a huge load of debt, he added.
“There’s a lot of kids that have intelligence that isn’t connected to book-learning, or isn’t connected to sitting at a desk,” Hohenstein said. “A lot of the physical trades are ways for those young people to go and get jobs.”
He said Lincoln was a natural choice for the fair because the school already has an extensive career and technical program.
Philadelphia AFL-CIO President Pat Eiding, a Kensington native who came up through the insulators’ union, told students they can find a career if they follow the basics — showing up to work on time and respecting their co-workers.
“There’s fantastic opportunities,” he said. “In the 100 unions-plus that are a part of my organization, every kind of work that you can imagine is being done by somebody.”
Hakeem Ruiz, a 2011 Lincoln graduate, also addressed students. He said the school gave him a lot of opportunities, including the chance to start The Block Gives Back, a local nonprofit charitable organization.
The group, which organizes clean-ups, food drives and other events, started about five years ago and recently secured its first physical location on Torresdale Avenue in Tacony.
In addition to unions, other organizations were represented, including Community College of Philadelphia and Orleans Technical College. ••