Faced with steep tuition bills, some young people are beginning to opt out of the traditional four-year college route to cut down on crippling debt or just skip it altogether and start working.

“The trades are the best,” said Vernon Aaron, 22, of Boston. “It is good for anyone who doesn’t consider college and wants to learn a skill. The sky is the limit.”

Aaron recently began his four-year apprenticeship with Carpenters Local 67 after a few years of working non-union trade jobs in the city. He will go to the New England Carpenters Training Center in Millbury four times a year for the next four years.

“For me, if it wasn’t for this opportunity I honestly don’t know what I would do right now, especially in Boston,” Aaron said. “You need a blue-collar job if you don’t go to college.”

Aaron says the building trades offer a solid career with benefits and none of the debt.

“With college, by the time you start your career you’re paying back so much money,” Aaron said. “You can’t take a skill. It’s a big benefit of any union trade. I think it is the best option for any young guy my age.”

Bert Durand, spokesman for the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, said more people are seeking trade-union jobs as a pathway to a middle-class living.

Sarah Waterfield, 19, of Randolph, is also trying to avoid the back-breaking debt that comes with a four-year college. She is headed to Bunker Hill Community College in the fall to study psychology.

The burden of paying for college was a key factor in Waterfield’s decision to choose Bunker Hill, she said. She left Plymouth State University in New Hampshire — and the $34,000 price tag — and hopes to transfer to the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the future.

“Plymouth was really expensive. That’s why I transferred,” Waterfield said. “I’m going to stay here for a year or two then transfer.

“Everyone is worried about being stuck with loans and finding jobs after you get out,” Waterfield said. “They need to bring down the cost of college. France has free college. Germany has free college. Bring it to the U.S.”

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(c)2017 the Boston Herald

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