Local economy relies on CTE

File photo From education to commerce, career technical education benefits the entire economy, say local business and education officials.

HANCOCK — The Copper Country Intermediate School District’s career and technical education (CTE) program is important to the future economy of the area, according to many sources.

“I’ve heard from many local companies that are scared,” George Stockero, CCISD superintendent said in an interview on Tuesday, “because their workforce is getting to the retirement age, and they do not know who is going to replace them.”

Tom Helminen, president of Moyle Construction of Houghton, agrees.

“There is a shortage of skilled labor in the building trades,” Moyle said, “which will only worsen going forward, as much of the current labor force reaches retirement age over the next decade. It is vital to our community that we provide CTE classes in our schools for students who wish to pursue a career path in the building trades. Otherwise, it could be very expensive to, for example, have a house built, have a water heater changed, install an electrical service or any of the many other services that we need that require a skilled tradesperson to perform.”

Another instance of the extent of the skilled labor shortage in the Copper Country comes from one of Stockero’s students.

“We had our first young man who went through the machining class who did an internship,” Stockero said, “and he was offered four local jobs. Now. We’re excited that we’ll have six or seven young men doing internships next year, and hopefully with this millage, we’ll start this pipeline.”

Stockero said he wants to make sure people understand that CTE does three things:

•Some students will graduate and go directly into the workforce.

•There are those who will take CTE and will require one year of technical school and then enter the workforce.

•There are some students, particularly in health care, who will take the CTE program, become excited as a result of it, and go on to college to obtain a four-year degree.

Corey Miller of Calumet is one such student who became passionate because of CTE. Miller said she took the nurse’s aid class in the 2015-16 school year, and could not wait to graduate, because the class enabled her to find immediate employment right out of high school.

“I took an elder associate position at Portage Pointe (nursing home) in the summer of 2016,” Miller said, “and my life was forever changed. If I never took this class back in high school, I do not think I would have found my passion of medicine and helping others. I hope this class will be around for years to come, so others can find their passion, whether it be in medicine or something completely different.”