Blue collar labor industry could disappear

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- There's concern the middle class could disappear in Missouri if more students don't enroll in technical schools.

Omar Brown is working on a degree in electrical automation technology at Ranken Technical College.

Brown knows the lessons learned practicing on state of the art equipment will make the difference between life and death on the job.

He also knows what he was told about the salary range for opportunities in his field when he enrolled in the program 18 months ago.

Despite good salaries, pensions and 401Ks, students are not going to school to become welders, electricians and plumbers in high numbers.

That's a major concern for school administrators, like Stan Shoun, who predicts a bleak future for the blue collar labor industry.

Not only is there a shortage of students learning technical skills, but baby boomers who honed those skills are starting to retire.

Shoun says more effort needs to be placed on encouraging young students to become technicians.

Velimir Cosic can attest to that. He graduated from Ranken last December with an associate’s degree in system and networking management and a job.

Remember Omar Brown? He secured six job offers before he even graduates next month and reports to work five days before his ceremony.

It costs about $14,000 a year to attend Ranken Technical College.

Most students earn an associate’s degree in two years or less.

Learn more about the programs the college offers and the technical jobs available in St. Louis on The Pulse of St. Louis, Saturday night at 7 on KPLR Channel 11.

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