Preparing students for careers not inexpensive

Congratulations are in order to those at the Swiss Hills Career Center in Woodsfield who found a way to offer a new vocational training program that ought to be of great value to graduates.

It will prepare students to become heavy equipment operators, working on construction equipment such as bulldozers, graders, off-road dump trucks, etc. Traditionally, jobs in that field have paid well.

There is a substantial demand for operators in our area, as a result of the oil and gas drilling boom. But as we noted last week, job demand outlook for such skilled tradespeople is expected to grow by 12 percent through 2026, and there are more than 2,300 jobs for heavy equipment operators in southeast Ohio. The median pay for such positions is $23.10 an hour.

It was not easy for Swiss Hills officials to get the program off the ground. For the training to be truly valuable, it has to expose students to the kinds of equipment they will be operating. Swiss Hills officials have a $100,000 bulldozer, among other pieces of pricey machinery.

Vocational schools and community colleges in our area have an excellent reputation for career training. But often, as is the case at Swiss Hills, it requires expensive equipment.

Education officials should consider establishing special funds to enable schools and colleges to buy such equipment, if they can make persuasive requests for it. Students should not have to go elsewhere, possibly at great expense, to get in-demand career training.