While driving around town, residents may have noticed some signs in their neighbors’ yards announcing “Congratulations, I was trained at Pioneer.” Beyond celebrating our graduates, those signs are a symbol of the future for not just our students, but our community as well. Residents will be pleased to know that Pioneer students are hitting the workforce and contributing to our local economy.
At Pioneer Career and Technology Center, we are focused on making sure that our students leave school after their senior year well trained with hands-on trade skills and high level thinking skills for whatever they choose next. As a career center we provide a unique learning experience, which is different from the traditional high school framework. This combination qualifies our graduates to find work and enter a trade if they choose. Some of our students build on their Pioneer training by using it as a pathway to a degree from either a two or four year college. Some students even graduate with credentials and licenses in hand for their chosen career.
According to national statistics, the most difficult segment of the workforce for employers to staff with qualified employees is the skilled trades – electricians, machinists, welders and other positions that are critical for manufacturing and construction. Over 60% of the current trade labor force is 45 or older so it is easy to see that training young employees for these positions is crucial. Pioneer’s job training programs play a pivotal role in filling this gap.
As you can imagine, operating a school that offers hands-on training in over 35 program areas to meet the demands of the workforce is costly. We have worked hard to maintain our current budget, but due to years of state funding cuts and declining revenues, Pioneer is at a crossroads.
In order to maintain the level of education and training Pioneer provides to students, the board of education has started the process of placing a replacement levy on the November 4 ballot. In the coming months, you will be hearing more about the upcoming ballot issue and what it means to our students and community.
For over 45 years, Pioneer has had a proud tradition of graduating students with the skills they need to be hired for industries in our community. In order to continue our schools on this path, the upcoming ballot issue to vital to our success. We want to make sure our community is informed on the value Pioneer brings to all that reside in our eight county area. We look forward to the conversation.