Local business offering students on-the-job training to combat need for skilled workers

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LENEXA, Kan. -- With a twist and turn of the wrench, students at one local company are learning how to repair pipes.

Lee Abold is a plumber in training at Anthony Plumbing, Heating & Cooling. He's part of the company's apprenticeship program. He gets on-the-job training while getting paid.

"I think what you gain from this is invaluable. I think it’s a very critical need in our country," Abold said.

There's a big need for skilled workers in the metro. But there's also a shortage.

Richard Fort, dean of industrial technology at Johnson County Community College, said there's a stigma surrounding trade schools.

"A lot of people are scared of it because they think it’s dirty. But it’s a way to make a really great living," Fort said.

According to a study by the National Center for Education Statistics, trade schools saw a dip in attendance three to four decades ago. Now companies are trying to play catch up.

"If we don’t teach our younger generation to work with their hands, the skilled trade is only going to get worse and worse," Anthony's instructor Darin Walters said.

Anthony's teaches both plumbing and HVAC classes to several students each day.

"I don’t know if I chose it as much as it chose me. I wanted to get into the trades, and Anthony provided a very good opportunity," Abold said.

Come November, Abold will  be part of a graduating class ready to fill open spots in the work force.

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