Everywhere you look, business and industry are searching for workers. Not just service-related jobs but also manufacturing and skilled trades.

Preparing yourself for a high-paying career can happen while you’re in high school. In the metal fabrication lab at the Erie County Vo-Tech School, students are learning how to cut and weld metal.

However, they are also being taught three things the industry needs the most: employees who show up for work, can read a tape measure and be accountable.

“What we learn and what we teach inside of here is the ability to be employable. Whether you go and do something else, the same methodology of getting instruction, taking instruction, doing a project, completing it and being able to be accountable for your work is transferable to all industries,” said Lyle Taylor, metal fabrication instructor.

Not everyone behind these welding hoods is a guy. Logan Kriess got a welding machine for Christmas, a gift as unique as she is.

“I’m really artistic in a bunch of different ways and I feel that metal fab is just another way to express that artistic ability. And it’s something different that not everyone takes to, and I feel that’s what makes me unique,” said Logan Kriess, Girard High School.

General McLane senior Kyler Alexander plans to begin an apprenticeship after high school to become a union carpenter. He encourages all students, college-bound or not, to consider vocational education.

“You might change your mind when you come and see all the labs that are offered here. Or even if you are uncertain about your career path at all, check out this place or go check out a college or both. You never know, cause I changed my mind,” said Kyler Alexander, General McLane senior.

And while you’re in high school, you can begin a co-op experience that will pay you to learn.

Sebastian Grace is a McDowell senior, in the auto tech program, who goes to school at Bianchi Honda and believes co-op is the way to go

“It gets you a really good understanding of how the industry works and what to expect when going out into the field. You’ll figure out whether you’ll like working in it or not. You’re only still in high school so you can decide whether you’ll want to do that forever or not,” said Sebastian Grace, McDowell high senior.

“These students get started at the end of their junior year and their whole senior year making money out on co-op. They actually reinforce the skills they learned here. We’ve got some kids already out there making $18 an hour in fields, and it counts toward their education. That’s the most beautiful thing about it. You’re learning as you’re getting paid to do that,” said Joe Tarasovitch, Erie Co Vo-Tech School.