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Trade-school students find work opportunities during pandemic: ‘They’re doing us proud’

Updated: Apr. 16, 2020 at 10:43 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Canceling in-person classes has been a major adjustment for schools across the Tri-State, but students at trade schools may be benefitting from the out-of-classroom shift.

“We’re finding a lot of ways to keep these kids in the workforce, and we’re letting that count as their credit for their lab component,” Southern Hills Superintendent Kevin Kratzer said.

Students have been placed with companies still conducting essential business to further their education through real-world work experience.

“When [our partner companies are] in a crunch and they need people bad, they’re calling us, and that’s fantastic because that’s giving our kids those real-life experiences and income that many of them need and their families need,” Kratzer said.

Southern Hills CTC offers courses in agricultural/industrial mechanics, graphic design, automotive technology, construction technologies, clinical healthcare, cosmetology, criminal justice, culinary arts, early childhood education, information technologies, sports medicine and welding.

After finishing the majority of the school year, students are prepared to join the workforce.

“We’ve at least had six-to-seven months to give them some solid background, solid safety training,” Kratzer said. “Now, we feel comfortable. It’s not ideal, but we feel comfortable letting them go out and they’re doing us proud.”

Kratzer says every program has been able to place students except for cosmetology.

Gov. Mike DeWine’s order to close barbershops, salons and spas has forced students in that program to find other industries to work in. Kratzer reports those students have reapplied their customer service skills learned in class to their new roles.

If in-person education is suspended into the fall session, tech schools will not be able to place incoming students into the workforce immediately.

“The challenge would be those incoming juniors that we’ve never met face-to-face, we’ve never had in our labs, they’ve never had their hands on the tools. We would probably start with the basics: safety,” Kratzer said.

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