GROTON, CT (WFSB) – The new school year is just about here, and focused classroom skill sets are being taught in a new career academy in Connecticut’ technical high schools.

Connecticut’s technical high schools are teaming up with industry leaders, like Electric Boat, to train their future skilled workforce, like Ellis Tech Career Academy graduate Alden White, who joined Electric Boat four years ago.

“Essentially it was like a two-year associates degree, and when it was time for an interview, I had a portfolio with designs and dimensions. I knew what I was supposed to be doing,” White said.

The new school year is just about here, and focused classroom skill sets are being taught in a new career academy in Connecticut’ technical high schools.

“We do have a deep long rooted heritage here in Connecticut of making very complex technical things and we want to keep that heritage here; it’s important to us,” said Jeffrey Wihbey, superintendent of CT Technical High Schools.

A heritage that includes textiles, clocks, jet engines and milling machines.

Starting in January, Ella Grasso Tech will launch a career academy for grades 10 through 12 training in mechanical design and engineering, as well as media production.

Patricia Feeney is the school principal, and said “We’re hoping to expand more in the manufacturing world. As far as manufacturing, we have a very popular welding program here for our students. We hope to offer that in the future as well.”

This Career Academy isn’t just geared for students who go to Ella Grasso Tech; it’s also open to students, juniors and seniors, in other school districts including New London.

A successful career academy was launched earlier this year at H.C. Wilcox in Meriden, focusing on carpentry, manufacturing and the culinary trades.

“So, we’re looking to strategically do this in some of the bigger population center across the state. Next year, we’re looking for Waterbury and Manchester,” Wihbey said.

Wihbey said they’re working in concert with Electric Boat right now. The company is looking to hire 2,000 people a year in trades, including mechanical draftsman engineering and welding.

“The kids that graduate from the technical high schools make about $10,000 or $11,000 more a year, five years after graduation,” Wihbey said.

That’s according to data provided to Connecticut’s technical schools by the Connecticut Department of Labor and UConn.

For example, General Dynamics is offering starting welders $82,656 a year salary.

Career academy students take the same “core” classes as other technical high students, math, English, and they earn recognized credentials and high school credit as part of the program including multimedia, video and audio production and editing.

“It will give them a jump start on a high demand technical career. And we’ll be able to give them the training, the necessary training for them to be well trained for the demanding market,” Feeney said.

It’s what Ellis Tech junior Tyler White is looking forward to.

“Welding just caught my heart and now I excited to go to EB and learn from there,” White said.

For more information about the career academy offered statewide, click here.

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