School to review programs to teach for jobs of tomorrow
Upper Bucks County Technical School now offers 19 different programs of career study.
Rebuilding plans will take into account the addition of new programs or dropping ones that are currently offered at the school, which has about 640 students from the Pennridge, Palisades and Quakertown school districts.
Bernard Wagenseller’s most recent job before being hired earlier this year as the executive director of UBCTS was at Lehigh Career and Technical Institute in Schnecksville, which has about 3,000 students and 50 programs.
“It didn’t matter, no matter what it was, they had it, but here we have to be a little more selective,” Wagenseller said. “We’re not going to triple the size of the campus and we don’t have the student body that demands it. It would be great if we could offer everything to everybody, but it’s not economically feasible to offer 50 programs.”
No decisions have been made yet on dropping or adding programs, he said, but one of the most important factors in deciding whether a program should be dropped is the number of students signing up to take it.
“We’ve just initiated a new board policy that looks at program enrollment because we have a responsibility to the taxpayers to provide the most cost effective education possible, so programs that are not fully enrolled, or at least half of capacity, can be problematic from a cost standpoint,” Wagenseller said.
When enrollment in a program drops below 65 percent of capacity, an analysis is done to try to fiJuUH RuW WKH FauVH.
“If we have a program that’s consistently underenrolled and when we look at the labor data, we’re not placing students in jobs when they graduate, that would be a program that we would consider removing. At the same time, we’re looking at other industry in the area that is crying out for people and that we’re not offering that program,” Wagenseller said. “So we would look at that program and say, ‘Should we have it?’”
The school’s Joint Operating Committee has asked Wagenseller to recommend two programs of study that could be added.
“The president has idenWLfiHd dLYHUVLfiHd PaQuIaFturing as the number one target for future jobs,” Wagenseller said.
“The programs that are considered close to diversifiHd PaQuIaFWuULQJ aUH dUaIWing, which we don’t have; machining, which we do have; welding, which we do have; mechotronics, which is like an electronic, mechanical RIfiFH URbRWLFV WySH SURJUaP, which we do not have; so those are programs that we should be considering,” he said. “vou look at what does the state recommend, then you say, ‘Well, even if the state recommends it, does that mean that locally we should have it?’”
Working with a state list of more than 40 programs of study for career and technical schools, Wagenseller reviewed which ones are already offered at UBCTS; which ones — such as ma- sonry or homeland security and law enforcement — are similar to and would compete with ones already offered at UBCTS; and which ones — such as drafting, computer technology, biotechnology and child care — are similar to and would compete with programs offered at the school districts.
That left eight programs as viable candidates to be added to the UBCTS catalogue. Wagenseller then picked and ranked his top three choices.
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“I believe that if we offered that course right now, wH’d fiOO LW ULJKW away,” Wagenseller said. “I think there’s a lot of student interest. There’s a high demand for people in that industry, especially in this area.”
If the vehicle maintenance program were added, it would be part of the school’s automotive technology cluster, but is a different program, he said.
“It covers everything from snowmobiles, outboard motors to tractors, motorcycles,” Wagenseller said.
Number two on the list was logistics, materials and supply chain management.
“Finding parts is not as simple as it sounds,” Wagenseller said. “It’s quite a complicated process.”
Number three on the list was heating, air conditioning, ventilation and refrigeration maintenance technology.
“There’s always a demand for HsAC students,” Wagenseller said.
Although it’s third on the list, it’s actually his favorite, Wagenseller, whose fiUVW FaUHHU waV LQ H9$C, said.
“The only reason it’s not at the top of the list is because we have a heating and plumbing program now, which to the casual observer almost appears to be the same program,” he said. “The history of plumbing has a tie-in to old central heating plants. However, heating and air conditioning now moves over to heat pumps and geothermal and certainly there’s some plumbing connections in there, but they’re two completely different programs.”
Upper Bucks County Technical School SkillsUSA officers and UBCTS student sign participants pose with Chuck Beecher, Quakertown Lowe’s commercial sales specialist, and Joseph Dixon, Lowe’s store manager. Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation has awarded a $10,000 grant to UBCTS for a front entrance sign replacement project. The project is a joint effort among UBCTS students, Lowe’s and an area sign company.