When he wasn’t studying for the high school diploma he’ll get next Friday, 17-year-old Alvaro Soria of Toppenish was helping build a home for Habitat for Humanity.

The work is part of the YouthBuild program, which provides job training in construction for Lower Yakima Valley youths ages 16 to 24.

For Soria, it’s one step toward his career goal: becoming an electrician after attending Perry Technical Institute.

“I’m just not good at school in general,” he said. “I like to do things more hands-on.” The job pays well, too: The median hourly wage of an electrician nationally is more than $25 an hour.

While college remains a goal for many, advocates are pushing other options that provide youth, such as Soria, experience and credentials for high-demand jobs.

They include everything from short-term certificate programs to structured apprenticeships from institutions, such as the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee, Yakima Valley Community College and Perry Technical Institute.

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