Technicians wanted: New program in county school teaches tools of the trade

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HOULTON, Maine (WAGM) - In an effort to get more people into the trades, a business in Houlton is collaborating with the Region Two School of Applied Technology to get a new program up and running.

Ashley Blackford finds out how this partnership could benefit the County for years to come.

Dave Harbison is still working out the details but soon this area in his shop will become a place where students will come to learn about plumbing, heating and air conditioning.

"There are kids here to educate, there are kids here that can stay here, there are nice job opportunities for kids in the trades, they just need to know about it."

That's exactly what Harbison is hoping to teach them. For nearly 50 years now Harbison's plumbing, heating and air conditioning has operated in Houlton. But finding people to go into the trade has been difficult..that promoted Harbison to come up with an idea to encourage high school students to consider this line of work.

"I thought it was time to at least approach Region 2."

Coincidentally the director of the region two School of Applied Technology was considering adding a new program.

"We did a survey of the students of all of our five high schools and the topic was plumbing and heating did we want to get something started."

Around 39 students surveyed said they were interested in the program. This fall it will start out as a pilot program for the first year to see how it goes.

"If we do get a good number of students that come to it this fall and the year training eventually we're going to have to eventually start looking at long term."

Both Keaton and Harbison hopes this program is the beginning of a solution to fill the need for trade's workers in Aroostook County.

"This is another approach, it's going to take time, the problem is not going to be solved overnight, the challenges are there, but in my opinion, the night generation of trade's people are currently freshman in high school."

"I think students are starting to realize that they can take a program such as that get them founded into a real solid trade and have a good life of earnings within that occupation."

This will be the first program of its kind north of Bangor and both Keaton and Harbison are hopeful it'll set up students for success in the trades.