PIQUA, Ohio (WDTN) — Upper Valley Career Center in Piqua is helping students get a jump start in the trades, while also helping fill a need in different industries.

Students get placed through work-based learning program, and once they graduate, they’re ready to enter the workforce. 

Teachers say their goal is to fill a gap and eliminate the myths of career tech education. 

Andy Buehler is in his sixth year of teaching automotive technology. 

“I’m a car guy through and through,” says Buehler. “We cover a little bit of everything automotive from basic tools to maintenance to brakes, all the way up to computer control systems and wiring, basically, anything mechanical in the vehicle, we cover here.” 

UVCC offers 26 different programs.

“A lot of people think you need to go to a four year school. You don’t. You can be just as successful and every one of these students here is proof of that,” says teacher Konner Keller.

Keller has been teaching robotics and automation for four years.

“The trades are absolutely booming right now,” says Keller. “I encourage a lot of kids to get into the trades. Don’t be afraid to work with your hands.”

Through programs with UVCC, students are able to start young.

“Students get exposed as low as seventh grade to career tech education so they can start exploring career opportunities for them,” says Jason Haak, superintendent and CEO of Upper Valley Career Center.

Haak is a product of career tech education and a former career tech education teacher.

“I believe in this mission. I believe in what we do,” says Haak. “We make education relevant to them, and we see their success.”

With about 1,100 students on the main campus and 3,800 in satellite programs, students are able to get deeper into a field, earn industry credentials, and start apprenticeship or work-based learning programs.

“My passion is getting kids interested in it and growing our career field,” says Jeff Bertke.

As a former electrician, Bertke sees the need.

“We teach the students about the basics of residential electricity, commercial electricity and industrial electricity,” describes Bertke.

“We need the skilled trades to help build the buildings, offer the support, and basically keep them up and running and keep the growth going,” says Bertke.

Putting students on the fast-track, the school gets them directly into a field, preparing them for not just a job, but a career.

“This is an opportunity for them to go out and make real money,” says Keller. “Directly from my program, I get students out in the field making anywhere from $25 to $32 to $33 an hour.”

UVCC is working on an expansion where they’ll be able to take 1,300 students on the main campus.

Buehler and Keller were recently awarded a total of $150,000, recognized through Harbor Freight Tools for School, shining a light on the work they do with trade-students every day.

For more information about UVCC, click here.