Schools preparing students to fill shortage in technical positions

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Across the nation, including in Buffalo, there’s a growing need for people who have technical skills and fill positions in fields like manufacturing.

“We made a mistake in education 40 or 50 years ago,” starts Dr. Kriner Cash, the superintendent for the Buffalo Public Schools. “We were telling people that the only to succeed and get into the middle class is by higher education and getting a college degree.”

After all that time, there’s a shortage no in people who are equipped with the skills to fill jobs like welding, mechanical, and manufacturing. The Buffalo Public Schools superintendent says the schools are seeing that shortage and working with students at different levels, setting them up for these types of jobs – thousands of which are available in the city right now.

“We don’t want a narrow pipeline for our students,” said Dr. Cash. “We want a broad pipeline.”

More than 6000 BPS students are enrolled in career and technical programs at several of the district’s high schools.

“The early start gives them the push and incentive they need to do great things,” said Charlene Watson, the Burgard Vocational School principal.

Mariah Shelton, a Burgard junior, has been suiting up and welding since 9th grade.

“It’s easy to me now that I’m in my third year,” said Shelton. “I want to do welding.”

Shelton arrived at Burgard not knowing what she wanted to do. Through the programs at the high school, she tried out different technical tracks, deciding she enjoyed welding. During the end-of-term exams last year, she received the highest score in the class — a class which is for college credit as the tech programs are affiliated with Alfred State.

“Now that I’m doing this, it’s easier and I am getting a lot of experience,” said the junior.

And it’s experience that pays well too – the positions these students are learning will help lead them to a technical program and upon graduation, they’ll start off earning at least $55,000 each year.

Students, like Shelton, say it’s not about the money though – it’s about bettering themselves and the city.

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