As demands increase and the average age of workers climbs, the need for well-trained employees in the building trades is great.
Last week we talked about Grays Harbor College’s popular and successful carpentry program. Today, we’re taking a step back to take a look at the training available here on the Harbor for high school students.
Our local expert on that is Lynn Green. Not only is she the director of Career and Technical Education for the Aberdeen School District, she also heads up the Twin Harbors branch of the New Market Skill Center, hosted by the Aberdeen School District.
At any given time nearly three-quarters of the AHS students are enrolled in some sort of technical or career course, she said.
“My job is to help staff make opportunities for students to explore, to discover what it is they really enjoy, and frankly, what they don’t. It’s important that they know there are a lot of options for their education and none is necessarily lesser than another,” said Lynn.
“There are many high-wage, high –demand jobs in these careers that students need to know about,” she said.
A LITTLE BACKGROUND
Currently Aberdeen High School offers a variety of career-oriented jobs including construction; culinary arts, American Sign Language interpreting, banking and finance – complete with a Twin Star Credit Union branch located within the high school that students can work in. Other courses include a marketing program that includes travel and tourism, retail and fashion design; graphics, photography, publishing, manufacturing of jewelry; agricultural science with horticulture and natural resources; project management, computer programming; visual arts, robotics; and even broadcasting, complete with a radio station and video production services complete with a green screen.
The construction program offered has historically worked closely with the carpentry program at GHC and allows students to earn college credits and enter the college carpentry program at a higher level. (The articulation with the college is currently being reviewed and renewed.)
In addition to courses available in these areas, as we mentioned, since 2010, Aberdeen has hosted the Twin Harbors branch of the New Market Skill Center.
At the skill center, programs that are 3-hours long are offered for students from 10 area school districts. In addition to Aberdeen, these career pathway courses draw students from Hoquiam, Ocosta, Wishkah, North Beach, Lake Quinault, Montesano, Raymond, South Bend and Willapa Valley districts!
When the legislature made it possible to expand Skill Center programs across the state a few years ago, it was a great thing for our students, Lynn said.
Until that time, for many more rural areas, including Grays Harbor and Pacific counties, the closest one – in Tumwater – was really not close enough for Twin Harbor students. Thankfully, in 2010, Aberdeen became the first branch skill center in the state of Washington.
“We’ve really made some strides in our state in the last 10 years for this kind of education,” Lynn said. “The state legislature has done some funding at the middle school level of these types of courses, which is really valuable to have exploration at that age. “And secondly, adding to the Skill Centers by funding branches and satellites. Those two investments have made a critical difference in allowing students to explore options,” she said.
The programs offered through the Twin Harbors branch of the New Market Skill Center are automotive technology, criminal justice, cosmetology, professional medical careers, medical assisting, as well as electrical engineering and refrigeration careers.
While a community needs trained workers in all of those areas, because of our focus here at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor in the housing industry, we are going to talk a little about the electrical engineering and refrigeration careers.
The students taking that course may someday become experts in installing and repairing heating and cooling systems, repairing major appliances, becoming a lineman or an electrician or even deciding to pursue a degree in engineering or some other sort of construction-oriented career. The demand in the building industry is great for all those kinds of skilled workers!
In addition, in each of the areas of study, the instructors and Lynn work to establish connections with other training programs as well as employers, who are eager for new hires with some training and background.
Instructors make a point to have students work on resumes, talk with students about their future plans, and even connect them with potential employers.
Students can leave many of these high school programs with college credit, or even an industry certification.
IT’S A WIN, WIN, WIN
It’s well known that a good sports program or music program keeps some students interested and attending high school that might otherwise drop out. The same thing is true about a strong career and technical program.
“I have students tell me every year that this is why they stay in school,” said Lynn.
Keeping kids interested and engaged in school, training them to become good employees, letting them explore and experience what a certain field might be like and providing strong new employees into a variety of fields is a win, win, win for society!
FOR MORE INFO
To learn more about the career and technical training programs offered through Aberdeen High School and also the Twin Harbors branch of the New Market Skills Center, contact Lynn Green.
She is a knowledgeable, enthusiastic resource for finding out about career and technical training. She can be reached at (360) 538-2038 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks® of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is the executive director. This is a non-profit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing opportunities for all residents of Grays Harbor County.
Do you have questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or becoming a homeowner or one of our contractors? We have rehab loan funds at tailored rates! Call us at 533-7828, write us or visit us at 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen.