NEW CASTLE, PA.
The New Castle School of Trades welcomed a group of potential students to its new, 93,000-square-foot facility for an open house Thursday to let them know demand is rising for skilled- trades workers in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
To back the claim, a panel of 10 representatives from leading companies working across multiple industries was on hand to vouch for the school and how well it prepares its graduates for the work force.
“The need for trades in our locale is just rising, and it’s being driven by the Marcellus and Utica shale to a point where you won’t recognize the local economy in 20 to 25 years,” said Noel Olinger, owner of The Genesis Consortium, which works to attract potential employers that can hire NCST graduates.
“These companies are getting a ton of applicants, but they don’t have the correct skill sets,” Olinger added.
After years of pushing higher education across the United States, educators and politicians now are expressing a renewed interest in trade schools such as NCST.
As a result of growing enrollment, which stands at 650 students currently, and a rapidly changing economy that relies more on well-rounded workers, NCST saw a need to expand its facilities and its program, said Brian deSaulles, an admissions representative at the school.
In addition to its new building, opened in July, the school is using its old location just down the road on U.S. Route 422 for its heavy-equipment, diesel-technology and truck-driving programs.
At the new facility, students were busy at work in automotive, building and machinist technology programs. The school’s most- popular program is in welding — driven by strong demand at oil and gas companies, deSaulles said.
The school also boasts traditional classrooms, a library and a number of computer labs.
Depending on the program, students could pay anywhere from $6,000 for a six-week course on truck driving to more than $19,000 for high-tech programs such as electricity technology or machining, which earn students an associate degree and take longer to complete. Financial aid is available.
Among those attending the open house was a group of seven laid-off workers from RG Steel in Warren.
Richard Beraduce, 62, of Boardman said he was considering the welding program but didn’t necessarily know what he would do with it. At RG Steel, he worked on a blast furnace, and post-secondary education is foreign to him.
“We didn’t have these types of things available when I was younger,” he said. “It’s all new for me, but I figured I need to do something.”