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Local businesses, councils, indicate a need for CTE

BARAGA – George Stockero, superintendent of the Copper Country Intermediate School District, and Shawn Kolbus, career and technical education director of Ontonagon-Gogebic schools, recently discussed the importance of career and technical education (CTE) both nationally and in the Copper Country.

At a recent presentation before the Baraga County Chamber of Commerce, Stockero showed a short video in which Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, explained why his company relies on Chinese manufacturing to make the products his company sells.

“It’s skill,” Cook stated. “Chinese are more skilled than American laborers. China puts an enormous focus on manufacturing and what you and I would call vocational skills. The U.S. over time began to stop having as many vocational skills.”

Stockero used the video to demonstrate that not only is the shortage of skilled labor an issue throughout the nation, it is also a problem locally.

“Last year, I gave a survey to all the administrators in the Copper Country, from L’Anse all the way to Copper Harbor and I asked them about all things, about our ISD,” Stockero said. “One of the questions I asked was about our CTE program, and over half of them said they want more programs. We’re not offering enough.”

Stockero also said at a Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance (KEDA) meeting last February, city managers of Houghton, Hancock, Calumet and L’Anse were present for a discussion about revitalization. The managers, Stockero said, talked specifically about the need for local trade workers, and the hope of the local schools helping to supply those workers. They also praised KEDA for providing scholarships to area students.

“KEDA gives a $500 scholarship to every school, so one student from every school gets a scholarship to go into the trades,” Stockero said. “So, KEDA’s backing us up. I’m hearing from the city councils that they want us to help create more talent (skilled workers).”

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