HUBER HEIGHTS, Ohio (WDTN) — The Huber Heights City School District is helping build the workforce pipeline.

This month, they opened the Wayne High School Career Technology Center right before the school year started.

The new center offers class time and lab time in three specific programs—construction, H-VAC, and welding—to prepare students for future jobs. 

“I wanted to try this since this was like my last year,” says Senior Ethan Drake, who’s taking welding classes. 

During a special grand opening ceremony, they gave parents, students, and the community a chance to tour the 18,000-square-foot space.  

“First-year welders, we’ll all start off on stick welding,” says Kaitlin Rose, the instructor for the welding program at Wayne High School’s Career Technology Center. “They’re our next generation. So, get them into the field, knowledgeable and comfortable in these environments and situations.”

Huber Heights Superintendent Jason Enix says students will get the training they need to enter the workforce. 

“Kids are graduating from high school with a direction and a path to success,” says Enix. “This just expands that opportunity for our students on our campus to be able to go into high-demand trades and be ready to be certificated and credentialed.”

Through the center, students can get their hands dirty without ever leaving the school grounds. 

“This is a unique opportunity. Only a few schools in the area have an on-site tech career education center. And now we’re one of them,” says Brent Carey, principal of Wayne High School. 

The center is made possible through a partnership with Miami Valley Career Technology Center. 

“I think there’s been kind of this revolution where there was this college-for-all mentality and those students went and maybe were disenfranchised coming out with a degree that maybe wasn’t a living wage and didn’t even work in a field they wanted,” states Dr. Nick Weldy, superintendent and CEO of MVCTC.

“With what we do here in career education, they come in, they’re getting the training. They can go right into the workforce. They’re getting accreditation. They’re getting credentials.”

With this new center, students waste no time getting right into high-demand industries. 

“We hear the trades are dead. That’s absolutely wrong. The trades, it’s rebirth,” says Weldy. “And this is a great example. You’ll come in here and see 25 students in each one of these labs, learning the trade, practicing the trade, and they’re going to be the future of the trade.” 

The new center offers opportunities for students to jumpstart their careers even before they earn their high school diploma. 

“This population, this generation of students, it’s efficiency. They’re getting all this while still in high school. Most people had to wait until high school and then go out and get these things. They’re getting it all done in high school. Not only the career tech education but sometimes college credit plus classes. So, when they come out, they’re already two, three, four years ahead of peers even a decade ago. It’s just exciting to see that,” states Weldy. 

Wayne High School’s principal says roughly 125 to 150 students are part of the program this year.