Machine trades classes disappearing

The Muncie Area Career Center in Muncie, Ind. (www.muncie.k12.in.us/maccweb/) has cut the machine trades program from its offerings leaving students ineligible for entry level jobs that could pay about $30,000 plus benefits after graduating from high school. Two years ago the program was reduced from full-time to half-time and only offered in the morning making it more difficult for students to squeeze the three-hours-a-day program into their schedules. Ten students are now enrolled but only five have signed up for the 2007-2008 school year. The low numbers prompted school board members to eliminate the program completely, but left the possibility that renewed interest in this career field could resuscitate the program in the future.

"I think part of the problem is we're not as visible, but in machine trades you have steady jobs that pay above the average -- well above the average, and you know it's a skilled trade so you end up with a person that can make more money than most blue-collar-type people, and yet we aren't very well known,” said Bruce Carmichael, owner of Tomken Tool and Engineering.

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