According to the Ohio Department of Education, 135,243 students in the state enrolled in Career Tech courses last year.
“Career Technical Education is the key to success,” says Scott Wludyga, the superintendent of Ashtabula County Technical and Career Campus (Atech), which provides Career Technical Education for high school students and job training for adults.
The 650 high schoolers attending classes on Atech’s campus are getting hands-on experience to fill open jobs within the state.
“It’s different from regular school,” says 15-year-old sophomore Matthew Edelman. “I get to learn different trades, and I can use those skills in my future.”
Edleman is currently enrolled in the Career-Technical Exploration program at Atech and dreams of owning a property maintenance company. He plans on concentrating his studies on horticulture and landscaping next year.
“We want to have the best workforce in Ashtabula County,” Wludyga explains. “We want to make Northeast Ohio better. We want to make Ohio better.”
Construction Technology is one of the fields of study at Atech that is in high demand. According to Associated Builders and Contractors, a national trade organization, the construction industry will need to attract an estimated 546,000 additional workers this year to meet the demand for labor.
In Ohio, the Governor’s Office says there are over 6,000 openings for construction laborers in the state, with a median salary of $43K.
Wludyga says they have seen increased enrollment at the center, which offers 18 two-year career and technical programs, in addition to the exploration program for sophomores. According to a promotional pamphlet, the school also has more than 100 industry-recognized credentials for students to earn.
The one thing Atech needs is more space.
“Our campus was built in 1969 and our biggest problem right now is we are running out of room,” Wludyga says. “Our programs are bursting at the scenes.”
According to Wludyga, Atech submitted a proposal this past May to secure a portion of the $200 million the state has set aside for grants to fund career tech construction. There’s another $100 million designated for equipment grants.
Wludyga says to give Atech students a competitive advantage, the campus became the first high school program in Ohio to partner with “The Mike Rowe Works Foundation.” Their partnership gives students the ability to earn a work ethic certification.
Rowe, the host of the show “Dirty Jobs,” also gives out scholarships through this foundation. Atech students will now have the opportunity to apply.