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Local tech college bucking enrollment decline during pandemic

Enrollment at more traditional four-year colleges is decreasing, but students are finding their futures in hands-on careers.

MINNEAPOLIS — It's no secret, four-year universities have taken a big hit during this pandemic.

Meanwhile, technical schools in the metro are seeing the opposite effect.

Hennepin Technical College student Tyler Carmody of Lakeville was going to a four year university in St. Paul, but he said the student loans piled up, along with pandemic-related uncertainty.

"With this COVID stuff coming through, I was looking at the job placement and it really decreased what my degree was going to be because I was looking and a lot of businesses laid off or canceled positions I was looking to possibly get into, and here it was practically you work at a dealership you come here then once your certified you get moved up in the dealership," Carmody said.

Carmody is now sharpening his skills in car repair.

"Last semester we just got done rebuilding motors and we were able to take them all apart and check all the measurements and everything and put them all back together," he said.

"Our numbers have been full capacity for last year and this year, so it's a good indicator that people aren't looking elsewhere," said Brian Friede, who teaches the program for automotive technicians at Hennepin Tech.

Friede said Tyler's story isn't unique.

"We do have some students that were planning on doing different careers and then they came back to a trade so they have stability for the future," he said.

Job prospects are pretty good for virtually all students, to the tune of 100% job placement, according to Friede.

While Carmody previously studied business management and played on his university football team, he believes he's found his true calling.

"I've always been drawn to cars and automotive and I think everything lined up and stuff happens for a reason," Carmody said.