HARWICH — At Cape Cod Regional Technical High School, about 60 percent of seniors will head straight into the work force after graduation.
Many of those seniors are revving up to apply now for this year’s “toolships.” Applications are due in March for the awards made in May. These are different from scholarships in that the funds that are awarded don’t go to pay for college tuition. Instead, a toolship funds items or services that can help graduates get started in their chosen trade.
Students at the Tech choose among 15 career pathways — familiarly known as “shops” — that focus their practical training: Auto Collision Technology, Automotive Technology, Carpentry, Cosmetology, Culinary Arts, Dental Assisting, Electrical, Engineering, Graphic Arts, Health Technology, Horticulture, Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning, Information Technology, Marine Services Technology, and Plumbing.
The awards, which go to graduating seniors, are especially important, said Bob Eckel, executive director of the Cape Cod Tech Foundation, because more than 40 percent of the students at Cape Cod Tech face economic challenges. A graduating student might need new work boots, a set of wrenches, work uniforms, a pair of scissors, or even help with getting a car fixed so they can get to work safely. A toolship can cover any of these things, Eckel said.
The foundation receives donations and sponsorships for the awards from community members or groups and businesses, and it makes the toolship award decisions.
Fantasia Hatch of Wellfleet received a $1,000 toolship funded by the Nauset Rotary Club during her senior year. “At the time I received the award, I was working as a nail technician,” Hatch said, “and the salon provided all my tools. So, I immediately put the money into my savings.”
Hatch had a goal in mind — to become a hair stylist at a salon. And when she got the opening she was hoping for, the toolship funds went to work for her. “I received a job offer,” Hatch said, “but the salon required me to provide all my own tools.”
Hatch bought a new hair dryer, a shear set, clips, combs, makeup, and some new pieces for her wardrobe to help her look her best at work. She has been at Salon 700 in Hyannis for about a year now. She says the award helped put her on a path to success as a stylist.
Eckel said he and the faculty believe it’s “amazing to have a way to acknowledge and help those students who are going into the work force.” What they are doing as they enter the trades “is equally as important as what students who are headed to college are doing,” he said.