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One local trade school is trying to help fix the technical skilled worker shortage

PTEC
Posted at 7:37 PM, Aug 08, 2023

COLORADO SPRINGS-- — Colorado Springs is in need of more technically skilled workers. According to the City's Economic Development Team, there are over 3,000 job postings, but there are only around 700 skilled technical workers entering the workforce.

Power Technical School in Colorado Springs, or PTEC is trying to fill the shortage. PTEC is a part of the James Irwin Charter Schools in District 49.

On Tuesday, PTEC opened a brand new building on Waynoka Place just off Powers Boulevard near Cimarron Hills. The new building is nearly 100,000 square feet. This is double the size of their previous school.

Many former PTEC students and families came to the new PTEC building on Tuesday for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Students from sixth grade through college can take classes in construction, welding, automotive, electronics, CAD, fire science, HVAC, plumbing, woodworking, machining, and more.

The CEO of James Irwin Charter Schools and PTEC, Rob Daugherty, said students are able to get a job in trades right after they graduate from PTEC.

"They can change a tire, check the oil, all those types of skills that we think are not that important anymore. But in addition to that they're learning a skill that connects with them so when they leave here they're going to have a basic understanding of carpentry, welding, machinery,” Daugherty said.

Daugherty has been looking forward to this new facility for a while and can't wait for students to begin using the equipment.

“We are so excited to be in a building like this. The place that we came from we outgrew it. So many kids are interested in what we're trying to accomplish here,” Daugherty said.

Theresa Metcalf is the Vice President of Colorado Springs Economic Development. Metcalf said trade programs in school are valuable because, without them, it is hard to grow.

“So if we don't have a full talent pipeline of those types of trade and skilled workers, it's going to slow down construction or expansion opportunities,” Metcalf said.

Metcalf said industry professionals need to work with educators and trade program teachers to make sure students are learning jobs that are needed within the community.

“It's important to look at our talent pipeline to grow from within,” Metcalf said.

Daugherty agrees. He said it's important for the community to create their own technical skilled workforce.

“The idea is to keep our own community growing and thriving,” Daugherty said. “We can do that by creating our own workers then bringing them from out of the state,” Daugherty said.

Daugherty said almost all of their graduates get jobs right out of college.

“In the foreseeable future, these jobs are going to be in high demand and the beauty of this is that this isn't a job that expires someday. We're always going to need electricians and we're always going to need carpenters,” Daugherty said.

Since the doors opened in 2016 the number of students interested in taking classes at PTEC has grown. In 2016, 150 students were enrolled. For the 2023-2024 school year, over 400 students are taking classes at PTEC. Daugherty said they estimate they will get 100 new students each year. The building's capacity is 800 students. Daugherty hopes they will reach full enrollment in four years. PTEC will start classes on Monday.
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