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Experts say trade school crisis could impact our future

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In a society that pushes for high school students to go on to college, many jobs that require a trade background are being left unfilled.

Some experts warn people could be in some serious trouble when it comes to home maintenance repairs in the near future.

Dan Berry believes it's an epidemic in our area.

"There is a definite lack of skilled personnel in the trades in Northeastern PA right now,” he said.

The number of students interested in trade school just isn't what it used to be.

"It's not that, you know, it's not lucrative because, trust me it is, there's just nobody to do it,” he added.

Berry is a Heating Ventilation and Air-Conditioning teacher at West Side Career and Technology Center near Kingston.

In a society that pushes high school students to go on to college, he acknowledges there's a certain stigma that surrounds those who attend tech schools.

"That stigma that all of them are thugs, all of them are hoods, all of them are on drugs, all of them are violent, all of them are pregnant, all of them are, you know, whatever, is wrong,” Berry said.

Robert Bogumil and Felicia Ruff are two of West Side's students perfecting their craft.

Bogumil is studying residential electrician.

"The trades. It's dying out. They're dying out. And we need as much as possible,” Bogumil said.

He originally planned to go to Luzerne County Community College.

However, with the endless job opportunities after school, now he's not so sure.

"I've been told, the union are looking for a lot of people and if I do join the union, they do offer to pay for my schooling and I'd just have to pay for my text books. And I think that's a win-win because I'm getting schooling and getting a job at the same time,” he said.

Felicia is studying carpentry.

"I'm a girl in a guys shop,” she said.

Ruff is the only female in her grade and hopes to one day flip houses.

It's something that's possible, all without a college degree.

"If you graduate from here, you're going to get out of here at 18 and you're going to have your certification for whatever you took. It's not going to cost you anything, it's going to be public school,” Ruff said.

If more students don't choose to follow a similar paths these two chose, Berry says homeowners should expect a very different future.

"I think you're going to have companies, but that person who has no heat on that cold winter morning and that's calling, then may not get there for days, simply because they don't have a person to fix it,” he said.

This is not an issue unique to our area.

Experts say this is happening nationwide.

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