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WNY invests in trade schools as the demand for tradespeople rises

Posted at 10:27 PM, Feb 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-07 11:25:05-05

There's no denying that education is important, in any field, but the reality is nowadays it looks different for everyone - people learn in different ways.

For decades, students have been advised by parents, schools, even counselors that the path to success always requires a bachelor's degree.

But, with certain industries, like the Autotech industry booming, the demand for skilled tradespeople is on the rise. This raises the question: if students are passionate about certain trades, should they have access to training in that field that will enable them to achieve success?

Both Alex Prims and Kyle Huttenmeier are seniors in Erie 1 Boces Autotech Training Program at Kenton Career Center and shared with me that without this center they would never have been able to pursue their passion - a passion for cars and everything in them.

"I was never really a kid who learned from textbooks. I learn hands on. Sometimes that's what kids need, they just need to go right into it," 18-year-old Prims said.

"When you get to the real work force, it's not all about what's in a book, sometimes, it's different," 17-year-old Huttenmeier continued.

This teen duo arguably knows more about what's under the hood of a car, inside of it and under it, than your average person - and they learned it all in just two years.

Winners of the 2018 NFADA Ron Smith Memorial Autotech Competition, these boys are headed to NYC this Spring to compete in the national competition among some of the best in their age group.

Paul Stasiak, President of the Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers Association made it clear, "We want all kids to be successful, sure we wish it was in the auto industry, but these programs allow kids to pursue their innate passion and they don't graduate in debt," he expressed.

Right now, Stasiak said, the auto industry is changing and maturing by the minute.

John Gorman, a former graduate of Kenton's Autotech Center knows the journey all too well.

In 2002, he graduated from the program, competed in the same competition and signed a contract with Paddock Chevrolet at 17-years-old.

Fast-forward - Gorman is still there, making a good living as their lead technician.

"People that have let the industry pass them by, they don't want them anymore, they want these kids," Gorman emphasized.

Erie 1 Boces offers over 20 1-2 year programs, from Autotech to Welding to Culinary Arts. For a full list of their CTE programs, visit the Erie 1 Boces website.

For more information on the NFADA and the upcoming 2018 Auto Show, visit their website.