NORWICH, Conn. (WTNH) — Roughly 70 seniors at Norwich Technical High School signed letters of intend for jobs with local employers during a SkillsUSA signing day on Thursday. The event puts a much-needed spotlight on younger generations pursuing careers in the skilled trades.

Senior William Gifford was one of the student that signed a letter of intent. Gifford says the last four years at Norwich Tech turned his future career in automotives into a passion.

“It’s not a job. I actively want to be here. It’s not a fact of no I don’t want to come to school. It’s let me go to school, let me learn something,” Gifford said.

For residents in Connecticut, technical high schools are funded by the state. The only cost to students are associated with tools and uniforms.

“It’s an amazing choice because you don’t have to go to college, you come here and you get the training, you have four years and you get credentials,” Senior Cameron Busch said.

SkillsUSA Signing Days are held around the country on May 4th, to celebrate high school seniors and college or postsecondary students who have chosen to pursue jobs in skilled technical trades.

Norwich Tech Principal Donald Concascia, told News 8 that technical schools have the power to change lives.

“You can be a person who doesn’t have anything, come to a tech school and walk out of here making 60, 70, 80, 90 thousand dollars in your first year,” Concascia said.

On Tuesday the Bureau of Labor Statistics said there were 9.6 million job openings at the end of March. US Congressman Joe Courtney said many of those openings are in skilled trades.

“It means they walk out the door, ready to help the country meet the moment,” Congressman Courtney said.

The Congressman said that technical schools are having to turn students away due high demand and limited resources. The state is looking to integrate these programs into more schools to expand opportunities for students.