DUNCANNON, Pa. (WHTM) – Nineteen-year-old Glen Campbell could have gone to college. He graduated from high school with a B average, but with the skills he learned at Cumberland Perry Area Vocational Technical School, he went right to work at Rohrer Bus.
“Successful, that’s what I wanted,” Campbell said. “I didn’t want to go to college and have to worry about debt afterward.”
He likes the variety that comes with his job. On the day we visited, he was fixing a school bus engine.
“Glen is one of those take-charge individuals,” Rohrer vice president Ed Allandar said. “He’ll do well in this life. He’s just a step up and take charge and ask questions later kind of person.”
Allandar is a big advocate of vo-tech education. He’s a graduate himself.
“Honestly, the sky’s the limit if you want to work in this trade,” he said. “You can go to six figures easily.”
That is a possibility for 17-year old Nate Sprigg, a student at Cumberland Perry Vo-Tech. He’s learning how to fix a natural gas furnace but plans to be a plumber.
“If you enjoy it then you really don’t feel like you’re working,” Sprigg said.
Both Nate and Glenn like math and science, and they like the theory of how things work.
These jobs are in big demand because there’s something called the workforce gap. Many older workers are retiring and there aren’t enough younger workers to replace them.
That’s why Nate already has a job.
“If you don’t have a job when you walk out of that school, it’s your own fault,” Allandar said.
We acknowledge that many jobs will not be open to you if you don’t have a college degree, but keep in mind that the average starting salary for jobs like Glenn’s and what Nate will do is $50,000.
Vo-tech schools offer all kinds of classes. There’s also criminal justice, early childhood education, and nursing.
According to the nonprofit Institute for College Access and Success, 68 percent of Pennsylvania’s college graduates begin their work lives with debt, and the average debt for Pennsylvania college students is $36,000.