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Trade vs. college, or both

“I just want to go to work"
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Posted at 5:00 AM, Jul 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-01 10:34:51-04

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — High school students are finding plenty of career options in a variety of trades jobs. But it does necessarily mean they are opting out of college.

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Inside welding training room at Erie 1 BOCES.

In fact, a good percentage of Western New York high school students, who are enrolled in career technical education, are headed to college.

“On average, about 65 percent of our students that are leaving a career and technical program, go on to college,” explained Anedda Trautman, director, Career & Technical Educational, Erie 1 BOCES.

Classrooms inside Erie 1 BOCES Career and Technical Education Center on Potters Road in West Seneca are set up to train high schools students on a variety of trades, from electrical to aviation to animal science.

More than 2,500 students are enrolled in the BOCES program from 19 area school districts.

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Anedda Trautman, director, Career & Technical Educational, Erie 1 BOCES.

“This is really a great place for a student to experience if this is really what they want to do,” Trautman noted.

Trautman says the hands-on training helps students decide on future careers and provides great college prep.

“It’s like a mini college campus, so they're really getting that foundation laid of not only the program they're interested in, but what it's like to become an adult," Trautman said.

99-percent of BOCES students graduate with a regents diploma.

“The thought process was out there that yeah — we're going to send kids to Harkness because they are not college material and things couldn't be further from the truth,” described John Wodjeski, principal, Erie 1 BOCES.

Wodjeski says not all BOCES students are college-bond, but they get a solid foundation for a number of careers.

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John Wodjeski, principal, Erie 1 BOCES.

“I’ve seen some really high-end leave for aviation from electrical, nursing — super, super smart intelligent kids who know what they want to do,” Wodjeski.

Still, some BOCES students are ready to join the workforce.

“I just want to go to work. I just want to get into the salon and start doing it,” said Kelly Holdsworth.

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Kelly Holdsworth training in BOCES program.

Holdsworth graduated in the top of her class at West Seneca East High School.

She trained in cosmetology at BOCES to be a hair stylist and is opting out of college for now.

“If later on in life I decided, I want to take business classes or anything like that because I want to open a salon or something, I always have that opportunity,” Holdsworth noted.

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Kelly Holdsworth now employed at Tonic hair salon in Williamsville.

“And it wasn't about academic work either because I know you did really well?" Buckley asked.

“School was always super easy for me — I think I probably studied for like one test in my life,” replied Holdsworth.

Her mom, Kathlyn Holdsworth says she was a little worried at first, but says she realized her daughter is pursuing her passion.

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Kathlyn Holdsworth with daughter Kelly.

“The more we talked about it I realized she really did have a passion — she had a focus — she knew what she wanted,” Holdsworth reflected.

But for students who want to advance what they learned in BOCES, colleges, like Trocaire are ready to help.

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Trocaire College location in Williamsville.

“Institutions today have to realize there isn't just one student anymore — the needs of students are varied,” remarked Dr. Gary Smith, vice president, Innovation & Workforce Development, Trocaire College.

Beyond its main campus in south Buffalo, the college has a training location off Transit Road in Willaimsville.

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Dr. Gary Smith, vice president, Innovation & Workforce Development, Trocaire College.

“Maybe a degree is just outside your reach in terms of time, energy, resources, so maybe it's a certificate or a certification to get started,” Smith said.

Trocaire offers a number of programs and workforce development include IT, cyber security and a variety of health care programs.

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Inside science lab at Trociare.

Trocaire features a science lab, where students care prepare for many of the medical careers in the workforce.

“We try not to scare students away because sometimes they think — I’m not college material — I’m not ready for college — I just want this training program,” Smith noted.

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Inside Trocaire on Transit Road in Cheektowaga.

Trocaire's workforce development training even provides incentives for students. The college works with employers who pay for the program.

“Whatever the area is we probably have a funded program that you're going to be a good fit for,” responded Smith.