The reason is simple, sober, and similar to what happens at some other career technology centers across the state:

“People in this industry get three times more than teachers in the K-12 class would pay,” Voex said.

CIT enrollment in Michigan grew 21 percent from 2013-14. More than 100,000 high school students – 30 percent of all students in grades 10-12 – passed at least one CTE class in 2020-2021.

Career technology programming has become more important than Michigan businesses struggling to find enough skilled workers.

The same shortage of workers hit CTE. The greater the demand for skilled workers in the field, the harder it becomes to find faculty who would offer training in the field. While businesses can increase wages to find skilled workers, career and technology education programs at the high school level are limited by the salary scale of traditional teachers because of union contracts that set a scale for school districts, according to administrators. CTE who spoke to Bridge.

Recently at the Grazio-Isabella Career Center, “we had a mechanical drawing instructor who resigned after the first trimester of this year,” said Doug Bush, assistant head of CTE. “They offered him $ 25,000 more to get him back to work for his old employer.

“Fortunately, we have found a replacement,” Bush said.

New teachers, whether they are experts in culinary arts or computerized production, are usually paid the same salary as first-year teachers, which is usually less than $ 40,000 a year.

For comparison, the average salary in Michigan for HVAC technicians (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), including overtime, $ 65,000 a year.

“We’ve had a state-approved HVAC class for two years, and we can’t find a teacher,” said Chris Machinyak, assistant to the head of careers and technical education at Berion’s Regional Education Services Agency, which provides services to school districts in the west. Michigan County.

“The higher skills you gain, the more they can go out and earn in the private sector three times more than they can earn in (CTE),” he said.

Makinyak said CTE classes related to mechanical engineering, manufacturing and industrial technology have been particularly hard hit by labor shortages.

“We were under pressure from business and industry to offer industry-related classes,” he said. “We said,‘ Look, give us someone (one of your staff) part-time (instructor). But they can’t find enough people to do their job, so they can’t.

“If we can build a path (to teach more students at CTE), we can launch children in a year or two,” Makhinyak said. “But (businesses) need people now.”

CTE instructors in Michigan need certification in their field, but must not have a license to teach, any education, or a degree of any kind.

Teachers who do not have a college diploma must take courses to earn a degree in their field, but they have 10 years to complete the degree, Voex Grazio-Isabella said.

However, the Voex center was unlucky to find anyone who would allow it to unlock computer and electronic robotics forever.

“We may have to find a young man or someone retired,” Voex said.

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