Career centers rapidly growing in popularity

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Pennsylvania will have thousands of jobs to fill in the coming years, in careers like welding and plumbingChannel 11 took a look at how high schools and other educational programs are working to fill that need and offer students an alternative to college and the loan debt that comes with it.

Eight hundred students attend A.W. Beattie Career Center. They split their time between the center and traditional classes in their home school districts.

With the average college bachelor's degree costing $127,000 and a technical college degree a quarter of that cost, trade schools are becoming a more popular option.

Students coming from trade schools can sometimes stop right into critically needed jobs. According to the state Department of Labor and Industry, Pennsylvania will need 7,000 more automotive workers by 2026. Add construction jobs, including plumbers, pavers and masons, and that number jumps to more than 22,000.

Those are the kinds of skills most of us think of when we think of vo-tech curriculums, but these trade schools are different than those of previous generations. They offer programs like sports medicine, advertising design, advanced robotics and cyber security, all jobs trending up on state predictions. 

Openings in sports medicine will jump 9 percent in the next few years, advertising will rise 8 percent and computer jobs will jump 10-percent, the state said That's an additional 12,000 workers needed. 

Channel 11 spoke to Eric Heasley, executive director of A.W. Beattie.

"Kids love being here; they are engaged every day," Heasley said. "Walk around the building, everyone is doing something."

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