CTE Schools Can Fill Industry Needs, Meet Student Interest

Jun 3, 2018

Technical school is a fun place for kids who want to learn a trade and work in their field. It's perfect for students who are hard workers, and who aren't afraid to get their hands dirty. 

Auto technology, outdoor power, and building trades are just some of the programs that a school like Region 10 Technical High School in Brunswick offers, but I think they - and other schools around the state - should expand their offerings to add programs for plumbing and heating, and electrical technology. Those are two fields that are growing in Maine, and it is hard to find people to work in those fields. 

At Region 10 in Brunswick, and at other career and technical education centers across Maine, we need electrical and plumbing classes so students like me can get the training and experience we need to be successful in these fields. 

Career and technical education centers help kids get jobs and realize what the real world is like. If more CTE centers had a plumbing and electrical technology class, they would be able to introduce a broader education to kids and help a wide variety of young people find jobs and be more successful in the real world. 

I know it would be more expensive because we would have to hire more teachers and more equipment. But if we couldn't run these programs on their own, we could integrate these fields with the building trades courses. We could train the building trades teachers, add to the equipment that this course already has, give the teachers more skills, and more opportunity in the course. 

I feel strongly about adding these classes because I have friends and relatives that are in these careers and they struggle to find workers in general, let alone licensed technicians or even good ones they can trust. Also, I would like to become a plumber, and it would be convenient for me if Region 10 had a plumbing class. 

I would like to become a plumber because I would be helping people. It’s not extremely hard work, but it is still hard enough. As an apprentice, according to US News in 2016, you can make $18-$20 dollars an hour and after 4-5 years you can become a journeyman plumber and make $24-$25 an hour, and later, as a master plumber, $35 or more depending on where you work. 

Some plumbers make up to $100 or more an hour.  This is roughly similar to what an electrician at the same level can make. 

These fields would give a lot of kids good opportunities for a successful career. Even carpenters can make $46,780 per year versus $55,500 in electrical or $55,100 in plumbing, according to US News. 

There's a big need for plumbers and electricians. There are not enough kids out there going into these fields, and I think it is because kids just don’t know all the facts and don’t know that there is such a big need for them in the community. 

According to Nancy Weed, the director of Region 10, in order for the school to consider a new program, there needs to be at least 25 students interested in a program, so they know that they will have kids attending and it is worth their time and money. This is in addition to having a high community need for the program, which there is for both plumbing and electrical. Right now there aren’t enough students saying they are interested in these programs. 

So, if you're a high school student and think you might be interested in going into plumbing or electrical, talk to your local career and technical education center, and tell you friends about it. And if you're in the Region 10 area, let them know you're interested. Whatever part of Maine you're from, if your career and technical education center doesn't have a program you are interested in, try letting them know you what you really want to learn. 

Gage Arsenault is a student at Freeport High School.