BURRILLVILLE, R.I. (WPRI) — As the cost of college education rises, some students are turning to alternatives like learning a job in the trade industry.

Burrillville senior Tyler Miles is making a name for himself while advocating for more focus on technical education — even at traditional public schools.

“It’s not a bad thing, it’s not where the stupid kids go, it’s not where the bad people go,” he said. “It’s not a second choice. It is a path for everyone that can lead to success in every field of study.”

Burrillville High School isn’t a technical academy, but Miles said through the national student-led organization SkillsUSA, he was able to find his vocation and foster it at the school.

“A skilled career in career and technical education falls under the umbrella of anything from graphic design, to cosmetology, to video game design, and beyond,” he said.

Miles’ school chapter of SkillsUSA was introduced the same year he started there.

“My field of study is graphic communications. I’ve been studying that for the last three years. I’ve won a gold medal in advertising design in the state of Rhode Island,” he said.

Miles added that while he is already growing a portfolio, he is also lobbying to change the narrative about learning a trade and taking his leadership position to Washington D.C.

“Our nation is facing the largest skilled careers and skilled workers gap we’ve ever seen before,” Miles said.

Starting out as the president of his school’s SkillsUSA chapter, Miles then became a Rhode Island officer and is now the first Rhode Islander to serve as a national officer in the organization.

“Simply stepping into those apprenticeships in those career opportunities to grow in your job-specific skills and network with our business and industry partners is such an integral part of the skills gap that our country is facing right now,” Miles continued.

During his senior year, Miles will travel the country more in hopes of growing regional chapters of SkillsUSA — it’s a goal he has for his own school too.

“At the local level at Burrillville High School, we have a growing chapter of 20 kids about now, but our goal is to grow that and get everyone involved,” he said.