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School Bond Could Help Critical Need For Skilled Workers

Construction experts say Measure 15-175 could be a way to help Southern Oregon's desperate need for skilled workers.

Posted: May. 11, 2018 6:45 PM
Updated: May. 11, 2018 6:48 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. -- Construction experts say Measure 15-175 could be a way to help Southern Oregon's desperate need for skilled workers. 

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Brad Bennington, Executive Officer of the Builders Association of Southern Oregon, said the region only has 40 percent of the workforce it had 12 years ago. He said half of those workers won't even be around for much longer because they are either retiring, relocating or retraining.

"If you lost two thirds of anybody in an industry it would be a disaster and it's a disaster in our industry," Bennington said. 

Bennington said the school bond on Tuesday's ballot could be a way to help.

"We need young people in the pipeline to fill these jobs, we have good paying jobs where these young people can go to work literally right out of high school," Bennington said. 

Medford School District Budget Chairman Kevin Husted said it might not be the district's place to fix the problem.

"Essentially you're asking the high schools to train a workforce for these employers that are here in the Valley, that's not necessarily our job to pay to train your workforce," Husted said. 

Medford resident Tom Payne said he has been trying to get a custom cabinet maker at his home for about two years. He said he supports Career and Technical Education classes and has spent years mentoring kids and sending them to trade schools. He does not think spending $25 million on two new buildings are the answer.

"I think the money can be spent and more focused if we deal with a trade school rather than trying to do it twice," Payne said. 

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