While some Public School Districts across the Country have seen enrollment drop during the Pandemic, some Vocational Tech Schools tell us they’ve seen the opposite.
Maryann Volders, the VP of Secondary Education at CPI in Centre County tells us their enrollment actually increased over the past five years. From 428 in Autumn 2018 — to nearly 500 at the start of this School Year. MaryAnn Volders of the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology saying: “I think our community realizes the importance of career and technical education, and they’re doing everything they can to send their students, their community members here to CPI to get the skills, the skilled training that they need.”
More dramatically in Jefferson County, Barry Fillman — Jeff Tech’s Administrative Director — says they’ve seen enrollment jump from 343 to 550 Students during the same time span. Fillman saying: “Definitely in my region, there’s been a narrative shift to see the value again in Vocational Education. And for Students, they see it as a viable pathway.”
Both Volders and Fillman observe this trend at a number of other Pennsylvania Vocation Tech Schools. MaryAnn Volders saying: “Oh, it’s wonderful. You know, we know we have workforce shortages everywhere, and so we have Students to put back out into the community, to go to work right away if they so choose.” And they say they’re trying to tackle regional shortages head-on. Barry Fillman adding: “We started a diesel program because there were almost 300 openings a year in the North-Central region for people who can fix, drive, and maintain diesel tractor trailers, heavy equipment, and things like that. So, those businesses wouldn’t survive if they didn’t have people trained and, and ready to go join the workforce.”
But ultimately, MaryAnn Volders says: “As we’re putting Students into the workforce, you know, we hope that they stay in our communities. We hope that they are paying rent in our communities, buying homes in our communities, going out to eat in our communities and really just helping the overall economic standpoint of our communities.”
Fillman tells us he doesn’t have to travel far to see Jeff Tech’s presence in the region. Fillman saying: “It’s really hard to go to any of these industries around here and not run into someone who says, ‘Oh yeah, I graduated from Jeff Tech’ very often. One local business I was at the other day, which is fairly large, had 70, they said 75% of their staff was from Jeff Tech at one point or another.”
Both Officials tell us they’re pleased with the growth of their Students — and of Vo-Tech Institutions. MaryAnn Volders, in closing: “I started here 14 years ago and when I started here, we had to tell everybody about Career Tech Ed, and we had to get them on board. Now everybody’s on board and we just love the support that we get.”